Monday, 28 March 2011

New Joiner - Boot them, Board them

Booting up new members... a question that has been hitting for a while now...

Since August 2010, we in Pune have doubled up the size of our development Team.. while it is a good thing for any team and is a sign of upcoming prosperity to the Team and Organization... There is certainly a bigger issue to handle . To ensure that the new Team carries old values, improvises what we have and ensure that the characteristics of the company is not changed and at the same time the new member learns all of this in a much much effective way. If you run through the previous thoughts I have shared here you would certainly know why I feel it is important to have this process handled effectively. Also my previous post on New Joiners on the challenges we have faced in the recent past and the strategies we are trying to adopt to make our new joiners more effective... I take chance to put some efforts writing how we are planning to design our boot camp...

A few key ingredients to success of a boot camp is the fact that who runs the boot camp process.. I believe that the reflection of this runner is what takes the boot camp and the new joiner to succeed in boarding the team correctly... The basic elements of Team building form, norm, storm and perform can really be controlled and managed by this face who runs the boot camp. So while we define the needs of boot camp lets say, we put the prerequisite first, then sum of the process of booting the member to the team.

The biggest hurdle in organizations getting their new joiners boarded and started successfully is the missing role.. Yes you need a Boot manager. That guy who would co-ordinate trainings, sessions, tours and walk through and can also step in and be with the booters to bring them upto speed in right time.

Once you have a boot manager, you can build up a flow to manage your boot camp. Ideally I feel the boot camp should be a 4-5 weeks process. This process should be managed with the help of the most senior team members so that the values and organizational goals and clearly flown in the most significant way.

Here are the key elements a boot camp should hold...

1. Boot mates
Companies that have ability to hire in bulk can definitely afford to do this. Create a boot camp where more than 2-3 new joiners are involved. We have always faced an issue where new joiners join us in split of time and the gap is sometimes between 2 weeks to 5.. of course the challenge for smaller organizations is they never need people in bulk so most of the time the new joiner has no counterpart to learn from.

However an ideal situation, if you have boot mates it helps to understand the process effectively, discuss things within and have a better kick start. We have mostly been unlucky with the bulk joiners except for the trainees who really got a real help of joining together.

2. Culture tour
Most of the new joiners are confused on the cultures of the teams and organizations as there is no likely culture education one gets when he starts. Most of the new joiners learn about the culture with time(Though this is how mentoring happens) I favor a culture tour by someone very senior in the team, if someone like a CXO or head of the team can give a cultural walk through it can help the team member understand the team in the following days more effectively. Ideally a cultural tour should be split into multiple days and people [most of these key executives of the company or team]. If a new joiner doesn't understand a culture, he may not be able to contribute effectively. More less if he is a culture unfit.. it may hurt the team long run.

3. Vision
One of the most confusing factors I found joining previous organizations I worked in was lack of information on vision and strategies. I don't say that they don't exist, but if they don't flow out to the new and old members it causes a sort of confusion and clarity issues from a futuristic perspective. A sight of vision from various teams needs to be given to the boot camp members.. like Product Development road map, Technology road map, Services road map, company vision, local office vision. All of this helps the members to accommodate and build expectations accordingly.

4. Deep dive
Well nothing is more easier than getting a developer look at the code and start fixing bugs. The initial days of the boot camp should be architecture and code walk through to the boot camp members by Sr. Tech architects of the team and the process should involve them to do bug fixing right from development to release of what they have fixed. There is nothing more motivating than to see how your bug fix has made to the production and is helping a few customers on the product even before you get into the mainstream development.

6. Mentor
A new joiner needs to know who is mentoring him. A designated member needs to be definitely a key old member of the team who can help the new joiner get booted sooner and with less issues.

Apart from that there are many things the boot camp can contain, those few I found always helpful are listed down:

1. Get the new joiners trained by only senior members of the team. They are in a state to answer queries and they can guide well.

2. A view of infrastructure, tools , product and production environment should be done both by theory and action.

3. Get them assignments that can let them see how they impact the product even before they get to work in the mainstream teams.

4. Introduce them in steps to the entire organization fraternity, so that they can approach who they need to.

5. Get them a place where there trainings can see real time action. Once we put a new joiner in a war room where we were fixing some critical production issues.. Wont believe he till date has been key in getting most production issues handled by himself.

6. Make them fix bugs that they see, and that means those bugs that they see in the code no letting others to fix them in future.

7. Let them see a list of development items they can work on, so they can choose the best they find for themselves. If you are too small for this, then explain why certain project / module is best for them.

8. Keep the boot camp in work area so people can over hear and learn.

9. Do throw challenges at new joiners and ask them for improvements needed in process, tools and products.. they have a best view when they come from outside and this can definitely let them see those issues that you don't.

10. Let them walk free so they can do different things and ask different questions, let them challenge and get challenged.

11. Most of the new joiners somewhere have a feeling of insecurity when they look the surroundings, work etc in the early days of joining.. have regular meetings with them and address these insecurities. A boot team can get these issues in bulk.. but if not then have it handled together.

12. Always apply the same boot process for everyone in the team. This will ensure that all of them have a similar understanding when they join. the roles they play later can be different after the booting is successful.

13. Offer them to quit after the bootcamp.... I read this in Delivering Happiness by Tony Hseish... after the initial training he would offer the new joiners to pick a sum and quit if they did not like the work or team or company. This ensures that you have the guys who want to be with you and not those who would crib all their lives as they got into you. Earlier they leave better for you.

For all of the 10 you need to plan a few days and small exercises not just on technology but also on different topics so that they can alter themselves to the teams. All these exercises should definitely involve old and semi old team members.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The inspiring friday tale - How to be happy at work

The Friday that passed away last was highly inspiring, believe me not all Fridays are very good part of my days for a few reasons like I like to be in Office and work, I feel pressure to complete all those incomplete things I have left over the week to be completed on the weekend, I find Friday nights lazy and Saturday and Sunday mornings dead as kids have no school on the weekends and everyone at home sleeps till late.. So what is it that made my Friday happpy and inspiring? (Catch the extra p in Happy yet?), well I had 3 reasons for it and I am going to blog about each of these reasons in the Friday's that make me Happy series, So let me tell you what those 3 things were so that we can continue our discussion further :

1. YT our Tech Architect gave us an eye opener, On Software Quality
2. I met an EX-MLA and got some lessons and tips about politics and life - Very fruitful and inspiring
3. I found a few more ways to be Happy at work

So taking a regular approach I think I will begin with the 3rd... In the middle of the day on Friday the 18th, I took some time off from office so I can visit a physician for my wife, on our way back we found a old time friend waiting by-side of the road for a Bus and offered him a lift home. I give a bit of our conversation before we operate it and I tell you my reasons to blog...

This conversation is post our greetings ;)

Me : "How are you doing?"
Him : "Okay, You tell me"
Me : " I am good.."
Me : "Where are you working these days? and hows work?
Him : "I work for a Software Company, XXXXX we are into blah blah etc etc" [Half of India works for Software companies so this was no brain teaser]
Him : "My Work? I Simply love it" And I noticed a broad flash smile on his face [This surprised me, half the people from the industry I meet are either whining about how there company is not good or there managers are ruining there lives...]
Me : "Cool" - My inner curiosity was killing me... I wanted to know the reason behind the smile and also wanted to find out what is it that the organization was doing that he was feeling so Happy...
Him : "I have learnt to be Happy"
Me : "Hmmmmm... so what is it?" - I have to say that Zappos has got me so inspired that I am trying to find all possible ways of building great cultures and happiness in the team and honestly I wish to imply every single thing that can benefit our teams too...
Him "Nothing, There are so many small things we do and we should take pleasure about.. why Whine, when you can feel Divine"

Believe me... the words made my day... This also comes because one of a fellow colleagues a day ago had asked me "What keeps you motivated to write a blog? there are so many issues, work load etc etc".. Though I answered "Passion" I know that there is much more.. I just think what inspired me to feel proud about is worth sharing here...

Yes.. I have found a way to keep myself Happy... and that Happiness really turns back to wherever I am ... at work, at home or any other place.. I have always been like this and these are the things that I do to be like this... i.e. Happy

1. Read a book unrelated to your profession
Reading is always a blessing, I have learnt this with experience... it has helped in knowing new things and new ways of doing things. A lot of us are scared looking at the breadth and width of the books but let me tell you it is not bad once you get in..
I made atleast 18 attempts before I actually started loving reading. Now reading keeps my momentum at work.. The recent book I am reading is "Worshipping false Gods" [A book targeted towards Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's life and decisions by Arun Shourie a BJP leader] . Prior to that I finished "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hseish [This is more related to my work, culture but inspired me a lot]. Reading really keeps you involved and I am sure that if it is away from what you do regularly this will keep you busy in the evenings.

P.S. Don't start with Leadership and self help books, if you are not a regular reader.. start with Fiction or some suspense thriller novel...

2. Go visit an art gallery, Museum,
This will blend you into the oceans of art.. some paintings, some art work.. just go visit it once every while. A visit to a aquarium or a sports ground or a museum is also not bad... I visited the Kelkar museum 2 weeks ago.. and learnt a lot about Pune city's irrigation setup. Amazing I must say... A few weeks ago to the renovated Deccan Gymkhana grounds and took a tour.. you know the history and the players associated with it..

3. Watch Movies
I watch a lot of movies. 2 new movies a minimum a week. This keeps me busy, I know one of my weekend nights is going to be watching a good actor play things. Movies inspire you to improve in watching a sports centric movie always blesses me to do more exercises, watching Sean Connery, Amitabh Bacchan, Aamir Khan and Tom Hopkins get me improve my style [include all the Hindi players within too]. Sometimes running into Operah's and plays will also keep you Happy.

4. Blog your experience
Write about it. The more you write the more you improve.. Sharing is a new way of learning and blogging is a really nice experience.

5. Swim
It heals you. Believe me. If you cant find time to swim everyday, try and use your weekend to swim... I haven't seen another best way to relax oneself than swimming.

6. Exercise
A daily exercise or a morning walk can really really get you excited for the entire day. I have noticed that if the mornings begin early and start with a exercise they are surely going to turn you into a motivated factory ready to face the challenges of the day smartly and patiently. I treat Yoga in this section also.

7. Take a walk in the neighbourhood and find 20 things that you had not seen in your last walk.
Well not just neighbourhood, try this on roads and places.. you will find amazing changes and the effect of those changes too. I had done this in office building and noticed some changes that should be termed interesting, people, behaviors, attitudes and choices.. really inspires you... if you maintain the list you would find it worth reading a few years/months later.. if you want to make it easy... capture them in pics.

8. Sport
Stick to a sport.. cricket, soccer.. play it. Just don't watch it. Worst case watch it when it is played and not on TV. Sport is one of the best way to build patience, aggression and winning spirit all at same time.

9. Bowling Alley?
Go hit it once a while... this will bring flavours of joy in your routines.

10. Try an Adventure
Bungee jumps, adventure sport, rock climbing or scuba diving.. whatever you can do... ensure you do it once every few weeks.

11. Surprise your spouse, colleagues
With surprising elements... take them for a uncalled lunch or gift them something that they weren't expecting. This will keep them looking for you on what you would do next and in general improvise your confidence on doing creative things. Also it helps one gets creative.

12. Say a Thank You
A Thank you a day helps. See the smile that you would give someone who did good to you.

13. Donate your books, clothes
See how others would benefit from your unused belongings.

14. 1 Act of Random Kindness to your colleague
As it says... do this... A few kind words, a few polite and kind actions towards others..

15. Share your knowledge, even if not asked
Because if you do this.. you would learn more and the value of giving will earn you more....

So why not try and do a few things like this... there are more that I would want to share... but I guess I will keep them coming as we move on....

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I had a 15 minute debate today with a very good friend. While I started this blog, I had just finished the conversation and while I finish this blog I have decided to give him a call and tell him DONT THINK OF AGILE..To give a bit of a background to this... I received this call just 30 minutes ago where a friend banged greetings and then asked "Is this Agile any good?".. A few questions and I was sure that Agile is not working for him... Going over those thoughts and discussions I really feel pity when people without understanding the need, necessity and requirement of Agility rule out the benefits, perks and values of Agility. I have no hesitation in saying that Agile is not just about a process... I think Agile is more than a attitude... And if you want to find and enjoy benefits of Agile.. you need to be prepared to learn, invest and work on Agile Teams.

So what are those things that should act as a hint to you.. so you can make this decision to say NO TO AGILE? As a manager, lead, stakeholder, product Boss or CEO.. you definitely need to understand when and where you SHOULD NOT do Agile...

1. When your Sr. Management thinks every feature has a fixed number of developer days.
2. When your Organization thinks that a product is just fully ready as a requirement document or mockup is
3. When any of the following do not understand what Agile is CEO, CTO, Product Manager, Development Lead
4. When any one in your team thinks Agile is ONLY for co-located teams
5. When anyone in your team thinks Agile means no due date
6. When anyone in your team thinks Agile is a PROCESS and it should be strictly followed
7. When anyone in your team thinks PROCESSES and reports make products and Agile is just another one
8. When your Product owner does not know how to progress with the product
9. When your product team thinks that the feature can evolve as the development proceeds
10. When your product team does not document clearly on what they need from development
11. When your development think that Agile is for extended development time
12. When your developers value completion of feature more than quality of the product
13. When your development is only about coding once and re-visiting back only when needed.
14. When Agile is just not going down your throat.. and you are making decisions in your team.
15. When Agility is only for a brand new product development
16. When Agile is a way to hide your incompetence and quality issues

I asked my friend to revaluate WHY Agile.. and then decide to do Agile or not... Do you think it is a right suggestion?


Post the last scrum a day before,I asked this question to YT and Vaibhav "Are our scrums valuable?" One reason asking that question was for the last few days/ months we are discussing "What we do" and nothing more... Over a last few months we have never discussed things that would make life of our users effective... In other words "We are not fighting for our users". The discussion led to several things and turned down to Passion and Negligence... I decided to take each of these in my blogs on these issues... The lack of passion in making attempts to think different, do different, help easing up lives of other and at the same time JUST not doing our jobs been very close to my heart, I took that part back to my home so I can think on it and see what we can improve... and when in the night I was strolling on my regular reads... I cam across this post Seth Godin made title "Are you doing a Good Job" -

He says "I come in on time, even a little early. I do what the boss asks, a bit faster than she/he expects. I stay on time and on budget, and I'm hardworking and loyal." ..

Well you run an eye through your office you will definitely have some bunch that matches this criteria.. but is this what takes you to become a cool organization? a cool team? Nopes... if this attitude is carried, then even if you work with Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerburg or Evan Williams you are not going to be able to make a Google, Twitter or facebook.. you probably may make one product for whom you do not care if it makes money and fame as others as long as you earn your monthly salaries... I don't say that doing all of the above means nothing... I think it means a lot. But does that add value to anyone else? Well people argue... I don't need to do anything new to add any value to anything... I just stick to my time and task and I can still improve things. "Yes" you can, but "Can you?" I believe when you are in such routines... you loose the focus easily (Something I believe we have lost in the last few months just doing the routine chores).

What makes a team different and an individual outstanding is the attitude when he starts to bring more value to the Team, to self and to others through what he does... It is not about what extra you can do, it is about what thing you can do that can help everyone else be more effective. What Seth writes here is what it actually means

"What aren't they asking me to do that I can do, learn from, make an impact, and possibly fail (yet survive)? What's not on my agenda that I can fight to put there? Who can I frighten, what can I learn, how can I go faster, what sort of legacy am I creating?"
Thinking over this I am sure you as Managers have come across some of these type of arguments...

"I was only asked to do this and so I did this"
"I cant spare more time at work, I have a family"
"I don't think I want or would like to do it... it is not my area"
"I am not sure if I should do this"

However have you come across something like this?

"Well, Look here I just made this and I think this can really help our developers"
"Eureka!!!! See what I made for you..."

Its the attitude to do different and outstand... and that is the attitude that I learn Tony Hseish and Fred had and why they could make Zappos a success.. - When you are passionate about doing things and improving lives of others, you build A culture, A legacy.

I recently heard an argument from someone that if I am not going to keep growing and earning more and more regularly, I wont be able to keep the momentum or passion within.. I need X, Y and Z as minimum things to help me keep upbeat... My thoughts on this was that if you need X,Y and Z to do better,there are a lot others who can also do the same if they get X,Y and Z. Passion is not haunted by needs, it is inspired by willingness. I think it is more than XYZ.. it is what and how you align what you give to get what you want... The passion to improve things helps anyone to grow... The counter argument was "Managers always want there team to do more, is More what you call passion?" I think NO.. many people do not realise that the attitude to contribute lends them borrow suitable experience and growth.. in short run this growth can be Money or perks, In long run this growth is Knowledge, Wisdom and Respect along with a lot of Money. If you are not passionate.. you may grow in wealth, maybe somewhat in Knowledge... but what you will lack is the Juice in life... The juice that will keep you flowing and glowing.

So go back and answer these questions...

When was the last time you did something that was not told or asked from you and You did it and feel proud about?
When was the last time you think you improved life of your peer by doing something really great?
When was the last time you felt happy about your work you are doing?
When was the last time you appreciated your own work?
When was the last time you knew you were wrong and accepted it?
When was the last time you improved on the mistakes you did when no was watching you?
When was the last time you said something to yourself and it meant good?
When was the last time you failed and wanted to succeed on the failure?
When was the last time you wanted to learn something on your own?
When was the last time you wake up, thinking today I will make our product users life better?
When was the last time you said this feature can turn the life of our product and I can do it?
When was the last time you said This is the best quality product / code I have written?
When was the last time you said "Lets improve?"
When was the last time you badly wanted to improve?

I am sure you will find your answers... if you don't, lets find it together...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Myths of 2G Spectrum and the Reality - My View

Referring to my previous post and an email I saw from a colleague.. forced me to write this post up... The entire post is made up of those thoughts on how I analysed the whole 2G spectrum thing and one reason I write this post in this blog is also due to the fact that as Leadership and as Authentic leaders many of the leaders have to sit in chairs of victims just because the myths become allegations and truth is un-revealed.

For those of my friends who are not in India and do not know about this can just click here and find relevant material to read... so here is how I see the whole 2G spectrum scam, before I do that I think it is also important for people to first understand the core of economics... I am glad today that a few of those lectures I attended in my Commerce graduation help me understand this better...

What is a Spectrum?
Well I am sure as a good googler you would have done a search and gone to the wikipedia definition of Spectrum here... I just want to put it in a sporty kid language... to me Spectrum is how various waves transmit the intensity... or just say these are various types of waves that carry signal... more generally this is how our data [Voice, data etc] will be carried faster [Internet, telephone, satellite signals etc]... a deeper but more precise way to see spectrum is watch the rainbow colors that are omitted when you expose your eye to see sunlight through a diamond... In this case where we are dealing, it is all about technology and physics, so it is a natural and a scarce resource.... the logic of advanced technology and demand / supply rules make it scarce.
What is demand / Supply?
I am sure you know this.. if supply is less and demand more... you know what happens.... You shell a lot of money out, don't you?
However if the demand is less and the supply is less.... it is called scarcity of a resource... something that becomes important when an advanced technology comes in and improvises the supply...

Why demand/supply is important here to discuss?
Well going the laws of (fr)economics, spectrum would have had no such issue if the resources would have less demand in future.. but with Technology it appears that the spectrum is going to be one elastic resource that will have ability to generate more and more supply as technology enhances [Nothing like petroleum, which can have less supply some time in future]

How does Spectrum licences happen?
At least from an Indian standpoint a spectrum is allocated based on various approaches..

  • 1. First come first server [Whoever is following a set of criteria and comes first to approach wins the license]
  • 2. Auction [A regular tender process, whoever bids more gets its]
  • 3. Specific criteria driven [If you have X and Y as initial basic criteria then you can get it ]

In case of 2G spectrum license allocation it appears that the first come first serve was used.. means whoever approached first got the license.. the same method A. Raja's predecessor has applied...

So then what is the scam here that opposition parties and media is hyping about?
Well in this case of 2G spectrum license allocation, it is said that though A. Raja applied the same method as his predecessors he did not apply it in as in format.. he did some changes[some conditions changed] that would benefit only a few telecoms companies... How much this makes sense? Well it could... if somebody asks for X money to make sure that the Y conditions are put so XYZ companies get the license...

Does this mean Raja has not taken any money?
As far as I have followed up the news and details... NO.. there is no allegations so far that Raja or anyone else has taken out of these licenses... There are speculations that there is some money stashed in for changing the dates and criteria...

So where does the 1.76 lakh crore figure come from?
Well when the government decided to release the 3G spectrum licenses they realized the potential money an auction could have got for the 2G spectrum also... all the hype the media and some of the opposition is making is about this figure and not actually any corruption figure.. of course the conversations between Nira Radia and others that have been released over Internet and media just adds different flavors to the issue, but it still doesn't mean that there has been X money taken by Y...

So if government loss 1.76 lakh crore, it means people lost that money or it was people's money?
Hell NO... A lot of if's and but's here... but here is my simple understanding on this...

Option A
If an auction was held for a 2G spectrum:
say auction costs the telecom company at 100 Rs
The Infrastructure costs them 50 Rs
The 100 Rs would earn the telecom company Rs 30 in 5 yrs
means total costs for telecom company is 180 Rs.. now to cover this 180 Rs I am sure the 2G services will cost say 2 Rs per customer... of course this would include some profits for the telecom company..

Option B
If given on the first come first serve
say auction costs the telecom company at 50 Rs
The Infrastructure costs them 50 Rs
The 50 Rs would earn the telecom company Rs 15 in 5 yrs
means total costs for telecom company is 115 Rs.. now to cover this 115 Rs I am sure the 2G services will cost say 1 Rs per customer... of course this would include some profits for the telecom company..

So who earns more? customer? who pays more if auctions are costlier.. customer?

What is the real issue?
I believe the leaked conversations, media hype, a bit of uncontrolled developments, lack of understanding, speculations, a berg of corruption of course and a lot of miscommunication and transparency issues...

  • Spectrum licenses should have been first analysed.. not by A. Raja but also by the previous governments and should have made sure that we take foot steps or analysed steps other countries used in this process...
  • There should have been a clear picture of what , how and where the licenses were granted to whom and why.
  • There should be a clear statement from government that the cheaper the spectrum , the cheaper it is expected to cost people.

  • The corrupt and the ones in radar as expected needs to be bought to papers...
I hope I tried to be as much detailed as I could... I am sure there are different views on this... but I understand... a lot of times leaders and managers make decisions based on circumstances... it is easier to blame it afterwards... but nobody wants to make the decision in the first place, and if some do.. people want to blame it on their frustrations....

So if Dhoni puts Nehra to bowl first is no different to me then Raja putting the license granting method... the resource waste that has happened in this process may be linked to people's money... but believe me in case of 2G spectrum... it would have cost the people a fortune if there was a big auction fight for the licenses....


This is my personal view on the whole spectrum thing and I dont endorse anyone to be innocent or accused, all this matter is in court of law and it will take it due course to punish the one's responsible.

I also maybe wrong in my analysis, but what I have analysed is based on the facts that are available to me over so many internet sources and news and the little economic understanding.

2G , 3G and Me

This week on Monday I saw a text message on my cell.. said "3G now available in your city on Vodafone", knowing from my team mates on how beneficial 3G was and knowing that Vodafone is giving me a free trial until 10th April, I decided to go with it...I got it enabled as you can see from my tweet... Out of curiosity I also tried to check the costs, just so I am sure I am not paying a fortune believe me an insider friend with Vodafone tells me that its not costing me a fortune.. of course the other providers of 3G are anyways not charging a fortune... So based on this fact that today I use 2G and dont really pay much and now that I will use 3G and not going to pay much, Is making me really Happy... I am sure not paying much is going to make you guys happy too...

But then if we are not paying much money as consumer charges for these services, why is there so much of speculation, hype , charges , allegations on some of the license and permit issues that the government has given for these providers?

Well for those who just like to make allegations on governments and managements, I decided to write a few posts on "2G Spectrum scandal" and my analysis of it from a management perspective...

P.S I am on 3G and kind of not sure how it is performing... At places I get an amazing speed and at places I have no network :(.. I will wait till I give any feedback

Friday, 11 March 2011

Pray for Japan

Dear God,

Please help our friends in Japan and neighboring islands who are now facing very very difficult situations with the earth quake that just hit them badly and tsunami that followed. We from here in India can only pray and would need you to assist our friends there.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Do you need Policing?

Today over a one on one session with Ani (One of our lead engineers), we(Me and him) ended up brainstorming an idea of code policing... In other words having policing efforts from someone on our code repository.... Of course the reason for such a thought and idea is to improvise the quality of the code that goes into our system... with all due respect to our hard working engineers, the quality of code is one thing that can tremendously increase your Technical debt...and something has to be in place that ensures that neither the quality dips nor the Technical debt increases...

So this idea of code policing... is it really a right thing to do? Do you think you need people who will go and check every line of written code to ensure that it is good quality? will this empower your engineers? Will this help improvising the knowledge of your developer community? Will this have a positive effect or will it create a process burden and forced quality on your teams?

Oh well these are not the questions I am just asking you.. these are the questions I am trying to find answers of for the last 1 hour 30 minutes... and the more I think over it the more I am convinced that POLICING SUCKS!!!!!

The moment you have to make hard efforts to keep a process running, believe me you are at the end of it... then be it a development process or a programming process... You definitely need to make efforts to ensure you have good quality [for product , for code, for team, for tests , for documentation for everything that links to you ] but then those efforts need to come from within... if they have to be forced you will have the need to police it to ensure they happen.. and when you feel the need to police it... that is the day you would want to go back and retrospect hard....

You need policing when

  • You think that the quality is not coming from within
  • You think that the efforts are not towards making things better, they are just towards finishing it
  • You think you are trying to make it work this time and next time you would do it nicely
  • You think it can be easily fixed LATER

And when these thoughts trigger you.... you dont need to initiate policing... instead

  • Step back, March slow , Get your act together
  • Read , Review , Read
  • Stop everything for a moment, let people take time off from routine and get them to realize the maintainability havoc

So what do you think of policing? Do you need one?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Power of WHY

Ever asked a question to yourself "Why I did this?" ever been into a situation that made you think Why you did something? Well the problem is we dont ask this question "Why?" atleast not very often to one self or others.. Last week we had 2 of our potential Trainees give a presentation of their understanding of our product.. something that they have learnt with us for the last 2 weeks, we have made this as a practice for the last few months where the interns are given a chance to work closely with us for 2-3 weeks after which they present themselves on what they have learnt over these days before we decide if they fit with us or not...

While the presentation was on, both the trainees gave a overview of the product, what are certain features and how they work etc.. during the presentation some of our Team mates asked a few questions to them, I am certain some these questions gave the brains a kick start... well they could not answer a few but in the end it was good... One important thing I learnt of this presentation is that if you dont know the WHY behind something you will always be standing blank in front of others..

Why this product?
Why this way?
Why this technology?
Why this framework?
Why am I here?
Why Why Why... a certain why's can help each one of us understand product development, management, product and our lives easier.. If you know the answer to a certain set of Why's you surely then can find a way to How and what.. I believe Why should be a core value, should be a part of the culture... and not just asking why, but mentioning why we are doing something should be a integral part of the work too... If you can tell your development team on why you are building something, I am sure they will be able to contribute in a better and effective way... it doesnt need to be documented, it needs to be explained, discussed, brainsotmed and debated...

Those certain why's can help you change the way you see yourself in the team, help you change the way others see at you and your team, help you do better for your team, product, company and self... Just that 1 why at the right time....

So my dear friend, next time you do something or want your team to do something.... just begin with a WHY...

Monday, 7 March 2011

The King's Speech - Know your shortcomings and fearlessly work on it

What do you do when you cannot communicate something that you want to? What do you do when the issue is not just about your ability? What do you do when the inner self stops you from doing things that can help you achieve great things? What do you do when you loose a war to your fears when you are fighting battles of life? And what if all of this is happening to you when you drive lives of others? Well King's speech is a fascinating tale of a leader who is affected by a vocal disability and his fight to be effective out of it.. while it is just not about how to overcome a problem, its about the temperament and values in times of distress...

So what makes me write about King's speech on this blog... Well I think the same reason that makes us loose every day, the defining thought their in your mind that keeps on telling you... "You cant do it" is the only thing that actually stops you from doing it... The inspiring tale of King's speech through a marvelous story and screen play, some great acting and a very subtle way of emotions says "You can". As leaders we are always possessed or surrounded by our inner instincts and thoughts [either of oneself or influenced by others] that do not let us move further and achieve great things... be it Fear of loosing or be just the "I am not a Risk baby feeling"

As human beings and more precisely as leaders we are too embarrassed or afraid of accepting our short comings. When someone ask you in an interview about your weakness.. you say you dont have one.. or a diplomatic answer like "I am too work-alcoholic" or "I keep work too much on my mind" blah blah... when asked what is your team's weakness.. as a manager you minimize the turbulence your words can cause and shower praises so you dont loose a customer...Leadership is about knowing and accepting your short comings first and then working towards them. In process there will be tyrants who would demotivate you, take you back and would want to block your way.. Leaders flourish when they know what they lack and make attempt to work towards it.

Another important thing this movie teach the leaders is that with constant support and patience you can make impossible possible and people can always be worked out with.. instead of blaming or showering sympathy.. they need to be handled with support and patience. Geoffrey Rush in his role as the speech therapist marvelously reveals these qualities...

Over and over though not a full-on drama, melo-dramatic events.. The King's speech is a treat to watch...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Life of a Product - Where is the Quality

From the books of a Product...

I asked my developer to give me quality,
He wrote me a piece of code that raised my anxiety,
when I said this is not working as desired,
He said its just how the requirement was defined.. badly

I asked my QA to give me quality
He gave me a document that describes the resource scarcity
I asked on whether things work as desired,
He said it is in state of humility

I asked my Project Manager to give me quality
He gave me a list in the name of formality
I asked if that is how it was desired to work
He said it lacks a bit of stability

I asked my Product owner to give me Quality
He gave me a SRS that talks customer suitability
I asked if this is what the customer wants
He said We can change it later and totally....

A humble me, now walks the roads of feedback
Some people disown me, under the name of ability
A rejected I bounce back with features
The Sales claim its a product infidelity.....

Now I know what I am all together...
For some I am passion for others I am mortality
Where I work I am loaded with Money...
else I just come addon to other products as Charity...

--- A Poor Product