Sunday, July 23, 2006

another book done

Today I finished Agile Estimation and Planning. Quite a good book.

I am hoping to try out planning poker, but the work that we have on at the moment isn't really suitable for this.

The book has some good ideas and practices for dealing with estimation in an agile environment. Recommended.

I've just started with Crystal Clear. So far, I'm not enamored with it. I don't know why. I've been looking forward to it for quite a while. Perhaps because I'd read lots of stuff about it on the web that it feels like I already know the good bits, much like a trailer for a movie that has all the funny bits in it... Pity.

But I'll continue. I almost always read every book I start.

Tomorrow I'll be ordering some more from Amazon.


I'm an extrovert. I like to talk.

But sometimes I think that I can go too long. I also think that others do the same.

I have a thick skin and am not easily offended, but I know that others aren't. People interpret things in ways that upset them, even when that was not the intention.

Enter "bonsai".

It's a stop word. What I'm suggesting is that this is a substitute for asking someone to stop. But because the recipient can interpret in a way that causes them no offence, then there's no miscommunication.

It's a benign word that can mean:
- we're off topic now, can you please stop
- I have other important things to do
- I'm not interested
- you're boring me and others
- that's very good information, but we need to keep moving

Or anything - it's up to the recipient to interpret it in any way that they want. This means that it's less likely to cause an issue. The point is that everyone knows what the purpose of the word is.

You could use any word that was sensible for you. It's just thought that bonsai was suitable...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

ducks in a row

I've got a new team and role at work.

In the first week, I felt odd - something wasn't quite right. I felt, well, out of control. I couldn't work it out. I've been the lead on two previous projects and I knew that I could manage those. What was it that was giving me that uneasy feeling...?

On Thursday last week, I worked it out:

I was blind.

I couldn't "see" what the project was doing. I could fumble around and get bits of information, but not a decent overview.

So, I took the project and shook it about. I pushed it until I got what I wanted from it - visibility. I got my ducks in a row.

From then on, I've been feeling much better.

It's amazing how decent reporting has made everything much, much better.

I wholly recommend that if you're managing a project that you spend some time getting the right information at your fingertips. Once you do that, you'll be much happier.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

simple things first...

I was working on a small financial app the other day (to work out where all my money goes) and I found that I started to struggle to make progress.

While I was watering the garden, I was mulling over how I was going to get the automatic categorisation and difference between actual and budget amounts working and then BAM, I suddenly realised that I wasn't starting out with the simplest thing I could do.

I decided that categorisation could come later, I needed a win and I needed it now. So I decided to just break down all income and expenses by each month and graph that. Easy. Anything with a minus is an expense and anything with a plus is an income. Within an hour I had it working.

I realised that the power of starting off in a simple way and getting a success is very important to being productive.

It's amazing how the stuff that you read is true, sometimes you need it to experience it for yourself...