Thursday, 24 April 2014


How well do you understand a requirement? More importantly How well do you understand a requirement when it is only documented? How well do you understand a requirement when no discussions have happened on it? Do you compare your initial understandings to the final outcome? Do you find a difference in what you thought and what is was meant to be?

Today I wish to touch base on a critical element that we experience in the day to day work. In one of the product development cycles we received a clarification from our team, on a feature request from one of our customer saying "I don't think it should delete the document". Now while I would want you to continue reading this, why don't you just take a pencil and scribble what does the statement mean and you can refer to it later. The developer chose to build the feature around the clarification and the outcome was deleting a document by said process was not possible. A few days later this came in as a bug from the same customer saying "There is a bug", iterations happened,  O Fish. Our iterations increased and we ended up throwing things at each other and who said what. A few moments into this we read through the statement again and realized we can fairly derive different meanings depending on which word we stress.

I don't think it should delete the document.
Meaning : Others do/may think that it should delete the document.

I dont think it should delete the document.
Meaning: It is not true that I think it should delete the document.

I don't think it should delete the document.
Meaning: I am not sure if it should delete the document.

I don't think it should delete the document.
Meaning: Maybe it should delete something else?

Go on and you would realize, what you thought about it, may or may not be same as you scribbled, depending on the word stressed. 

But then how would you understand which word is stressed, specially when it is written? What do you do to ensure you don't build a minaret instead of a hut?

Communication plays an important role and no "QUESTION" is not an answer to it, You may end up questioning every sentence killing the whole thing called "Intelligence". A few ways to sort this out:

1. Brainstorm : A group discussion would always help you understand the right meaning.

2. Read - UNREAD - RE-READ : Many don't know how to do this. But I am sure you have played "Find the Path" game that usually shows up in newspapers? Once you find the path, the next time doing the same is not very difficult. It means your brain gets used to making or building that pattern. Un-reading is wiping off the previous understanding and reading it from a fresh perspective.

3. Communicate : Remember the stages of communication. CONFIRM is one of them.

4. Ask : Just DON'T ASK. Also share what you think.

5. Don't stick to it : Once clarified, get used to the new perspective. IF YOU STICK to what you think is RIGHT. You are going to dig a grave for yourself and others.

Now while I wont keep barging about this, I would let you stress each word in the sentence that you see in the picture linked to the post and comment with the meanings. Enjoy UNDERSTANDING.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Are you serious?

There is a very fine line between easy going and laid-back. A lot of times it is not very difficult to jump from one side to other. Laid-back attitude can really spoil a lot of things nevertheless the results that can have long lasting impacts. Over the last few days we had several situations where the most easy going team members switched to the other side and with ease, most without realising that it is happening. The biggest problem of been laid-back is that you never know you are. In my long career as a development manager I ended up with several Ninja developers who happen to switch side failing to realise they did. Result was clear buggy code, technical debts, backlogs and dirty future. The laid-back attitude really kills the sincerity and potentially kills the winning attitude. I have been at times switch the side myself, specially when the teams get along well, work is smooth paced, people help each other etc. That is when you can start NOT BEEN SERIOUS.

Well its not very difficult to find out if you really are serious about your work or not, a few questions and that's it...While I don't want to discuss the why part in this post, I would certainly talk about the How part here as it is an important step in identifying if you are travelling the laid-back attitude or worthy one.

Do you ask right questions?
In meetings, discussions or otherwise? When I say right questions, I mean questions that are sensible, right and effective enough to fetch an important, valuable answer? If you don't, I can tell you that you are seriously not serious. A person who doesn't ask questions moreover right questions often bring the risk of understanding it all or none. If you never have any questions, it also means that you don't care.

Do you finish what you started?
If you do not finish what you started or things you are a part of, its time you think about the attitude. Unfinished tasks usually pile up to change the runaway attitude. It also puts a question on your ability to be a finisher.

Are you curious?
If you ain't, it speaks a lot. Curious minds want to know more, discover and then bring the improvement. If you are not getting enough curious, it also means you are loosing the weight of discoveries, Innovations are killed and you live a routine.  

Do you remember things? Do you take notes?
The most laid-back people will always be found in meetings unprepared, without notepads and more importantly without mental presence.

Are you confident?
Your confidence will always reveal your knowledge about what you do. If you are not confident, it also means you are not serious with it. Confidence is key and the consequence of low confidence is often failure.

Is that your best?
A question one should ask all the time. Is the output you just delivered the best you can do? If not its time to get more serious.

Do you convince?
If you cant articulate it, speaks you cant handle it. Its critical to be able to speak about what you so, explain others , debate, question and query.

Well if you are not able to get some positive answers from the questions above, then I guess you need some serious thinking My Friend. Go figure out if you are on what side and what can help you get corrected. If you are not serious about BEEN SERIOUS, then you read a wrong thing anyways.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Look Beyond Clouds....

I have seen Russell Crowe starrer Gladiator n times, and while I write this I am just about watching it for another time, same passion, same thrill. Just the very same wrath and power. While astonishingly Maximus inspires you, the contributions and work of Juba and Hagen cannot be forgotten. But do you think Juba and Hagen would be of any help had they not known who the Spaniard was and what he wished to do? Ofcourse not, it took looking beyond clouds for the 2 to let Maximus achieve his ultimate vengeance.

Looking beyond cloud is interesting,  but not so easy, I wouldn't mix it here calling it as "Looking at the Big Picture" cause it's just not that. Looking beyond the cloud is understanding on WHY than WHAT. And if the clarity exists I am sure the vision would be a mere effort to Reality. Leaders put through their vision and executors of those vision items need to have this ability of looking beyond the clouds. Do they? What are these clouds that block them from understanding the WHY?

Well the answer is NOT black and white. Very recently one of our customers found a bug in our system, reported it, we escalated it and managed to work over a fix. A developer was asked to fix the issue. The issue was found, fixed and released, the process however revealed the looking beyond cloud efficiency. A lesson we ought to take and submerge in our teams. At the same time it is important that the symptoms are verified and figured out before they damage. The course of fix revealed we knew the bug existed bug never asked ourselves if it would cause a problem to the user or not, We knew what caused it but never cared to detail on how it would impact, After it was raised we knew how to fix it, but we took time to resolve it as we never wanted to put that as a FIRST PRIORITY. So many failures in just one line of action. Fairly easy to guess now what these clouds are...

The cloud comes in various forms...

Laziness : The biggest blocker. If one just doesn't want to know why, he would never make an attempt to know WHY.
Fear : Most times the fear of having to do it or failures block one from wanting to look beyond.
Inability : Ability to understand and prioritise can be easy cause.
Visibility : If you don't know about it, you will never look for it.

Of course many more... Writing it down may give you a list you would want to miss.. Do you see beyond the clouds? The clouds of routine, vagueness, mediocrity, lousiness and at times inability? Do you know if they exists? Do you know what is beyond those clouds? Do you wish to know what is beyond those clouds?

If the answer is YES. Start asking questions to yourself and then to others.. look for answers and not just questions...