Working Up

Working Up in Project Management, Systems Engineering, Technology, and Writing

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In the Mirror

March 20th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I have seen this in people often, especially when looking in the mirror.

Not off to a good start, but let’s try to pull something useful from this.

We all tend to do what we like and avoid what we don’t like. Not surprising. I like ice cream. I hate paper cuts. My following actions are obvious.

I like solving some types of problems over others. Again, my following actions are obvious.

So what to do with all these meta-obvious-ness? Here are some things I have told myself to push me into the less-liked actions:

  • This is your job. You are paid to do it. Do it.
  • The longer you delay, the more it will hurt.
  • Surprise yourself and do it, you might actually learn something.
  • Well, we’re waiting…

There are other things I tell myself. The list could continue, and it will.

→ No CommentsTags: Adults · Change · Choose · Employment

The Present and the Future

March 16th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Here we are in the present. We can decide how we create the future.

Things are the way they are because they got that way.
Let’s try that again…The present is a natural result of all past circumstances. There are people, capabilities, technology, budget, outside forces, and a host of other things that combined to bring us to where we are today. The persons involved have all done the best they could with the best intentions with the situation.
We can decide the future.
The Zeroth Decision: let natural results continue or decide the future for ourselves.
The second choice puts a heavy responsibility on us. Just letting things happen is much easier.

→ No CommentsTags: Choose · Design · Excuses · Expectations

The Final Nail in the Coffin for the Old Media

March 13th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Facebook was the end of the old media. Facebook didn’t start the downfall, but it ended it for good.

Mark Zuckerburg recently released a new manifesto for Facebook. The mainstream media is dead. Facebook didn’t kill that big, bad, old mainstream media, it just finished it. Of all things, talk radio on the AM dial and the wide availability of inexpensive computing did it. The new printing press overcame the old one.

And Facebook didn’t invent fake news, the old media already did that decades ago. I guess the old media started killing itself when it just couldn’t resist bigger sales. It couldn’t resist the lure of having media stars instead of news. Those stars wandered about and betrayed themselves to keep their stars shining brightly. It happened in TV. It happened in newspapers, and it happened in the rest of them.

The Internet let anyone publish news. The old media couldn’t stand that, so the old media made fun of the new. “Those aren’t professionals like us!” No, but the guys could read and write just like journalists could. I guess the professional journalists didn’t have that much of an edge in education, skills, visions, and all the esoteric stuff that they claimed.

So, out with the old. In with the new. I guess we have to wait and see how long it takes us to learn how to read the new news. This isn’t the end of the world, folks. It is just yet another new season. We will adjust.

→ No CommentsTags: Adapting · Blog · Change · Communication

Please Don’t Take Away My Excuses – part 2 I’ll Have to be Responsible

March 9th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Excuses are great. As long as I have plenty of excuses, I don’t have to take responsibility for my life.

I have plenty of excuses why my life isn’t the way it is supposed to be. I have plenty of excuses why my job isn’t what it is supposed to be.

Please don’t take away any of my excuses. If you do, I’ll have no where to look or go. I’ll have no one or no thing else to blame for my unmet expectations. I’ll have to be responsible for my own life. That is a frightening thought. I don’t know if I am ready for it.

→ No CommentsTags: Excuses · Expectations · Failure

Please Don’t Take Away My Excuses – part 1 I’ll Lose Choices

March 6th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Excuses are great. One of the best is “I have so much to do” as it gives me choice as to what I will do today.

I have ten jobs I do. If I don’t want to do #3 today, I have an excuse as I am really busy with the other ones.

Please don’t hire someone to do #3. That will remove one of my choices, and it will leave me with fewer excuses of why I can’t do what you want me to do (instead of what I want to do).

Hmm, being overworked is a good thing. At least it is good for me. Perhaps it isn’t so good for everyone else.

→ No CommentsTags: Excuses · Expectations · Work

Software Systems Engineering and Agile Development

March 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Agile development is not an excuse for knowing what you did, why you did it, and how you did it.

You’re doing agile development. You hold a meeting to start a sprint (different methods use different names for this). You sprint! You meet again at the end of the sprint.

  1. What did you do?
  2. Why did you do it?
  3. How did you do it?

Question 1: at the end of the sprint, you demonstrated what you did. You should record that in some tool you use for agile.

Question 2: you did what you did because someone asked for it. Again, you should record that.

Question 3: you wrote code, you changed code, you tested the result.

The answer to question 1 almost always happens. The answers to the other questions…well, not so much.

If you don’t know who wanted something, how can you demonstrate that something to them to see if they are satisfied? This requires recording information about who asked for what. I know, in agile, documentation is not as important as working code. But still, come on folks, we write software for a person. If we don’t record the person’s name, how will we satisfy the person?

Now the awful question 3. Can we repeat what we did? Do we have the information as to the data and methods we used to prove that our additions and changes satisfy what was requested? If we don’t, we are wasting time and money.

Note how I used the word “satisfy.” This is why we are working—to satisfy someone else.

The answers to 2 and 3 are met by the systems engineering function of tracing. Everything has a reason, a purpose, a place to fit. Tracing allows us to follow the reason through our work. Work without a reason is, well, unreasonable. Hmm.

Yes, working software is more important than documentation. Use of good tools allows agile teams to document work so it can be traced without doing more work. Let’s be aware of what we can do to satisfy others.

→ No CommentsTags: Agility · Analysis · Communication · Engineering · Systems

Gone and Forgotten

February 27th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

We are here; we are gone. Sorry, others will forget us.

I’m sorry, but it will be forgotten, and I will be forgotten as well. Sure, computer technology can store my life, but someone has to pay attention, and that is where it falls apart.

In some library somewhere are copies of some of the books I have written. How long will these libraries stand? When will they dump my books into a bonfire as they convert from paper to something else at the local library?

It is just a matter of time. Again, sorry.

→ No CommentsTags: Adapting

The Healthy Skeptic and Questions

February 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Questions are just questions. No offense intended.

“No, I am not trying to be mean. I am asking questions to learn as there are some things I don’t know, but would like to know. Please help me understand.”

“I apologize if you think I am de-railing your presentation. I am seeking clarity.”

“If you don’t have an answer, please say, ‘I don’t have that answer now. I am happy to work with you tomorrow to find it.’ “

→ No CommentsTags: Questions · Respect

Excellent Maintenance or No Maintenance Required

February 20th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Excellent maintenance sometimes indicates a faulty product or service. Sometimes, no maintenance indicates a superior product or service.

I first encountered this over 20 years ago. We had purchased similar products from two companies, let’s call them Smith Inc. and Jones Inc. for now.

The conversation went something like…

“What happens when a Smith Inc. widget breaks?”

“We call their 800 number, an expert answers, they talk us through the situation, and if necessary a team of technicians is on the road in 15 minutes and be at our location as soon as possible.”

“What happens when a Jones Inc. widget breaks?”

“Don’t know. Never had one break before.”

So, which product would you rather buy? Which company is better for customer service and product maintenance? Which product would you rather build?


→ No CommentsTags: Analysis · Customer · Failure

The Production Crew or We Got the Band Back Together

February 16th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I recommend an organization for the future or work as we know it.

This is the new company. It is an agile team that has worked together on many software projects. The Team has learned much on all these past projects. The Team has become high performing (it “jelled” a long time ago). The Team can do what seems to be amazing stuff in a short time.

Hire The Team, not individuals.

How do you hire the team? Simple. Here is their “interface” or contract:

Give us an room (size specified) with Internet access via ethernet ports on the walls (access speed specified). We will bring the furniture, computers, white boards, etc. We setup the room the night before work begins. We’ve done this setup many times and have learned how to do it efficiently.

The Team arrives at dawn—seven persons. You supply someone who can describe the desired product. You pay $10,000 a day.

Life as we know it: Groups of persons work on agile projects. They learn how to work with one another. The group becomes more than the sum of its parts. The project ends; the group disbands, and the individuals go to other groups to work other projects. Start at zero again with the learning and growing.

Life as it could be: Let The Team stay together. Let them use what they have learned. One way to do it is for The Team to form it own company. Yes, this is like “two guys and a truck” and a movie production company and a band that has played together since high school.

Why can’t we do it in software development or in developing any other intellectual product for someone? I suppose there are reasons why the band can’t stay together. Perhaps we can learn from those heart-crushing breakups.


→ No CommentsTags: Management · People · Success · Synergy · Work