Are We Hippies or Soldiers?

I’ve been fortunate enough to employ my software development skills in a few different environments. It’s good to see the world from different angles, but I also pay my respects to those who find their niche early on and just stick with a company they enjoy.

It should be self-evident, but one system doesn’t fit all, and some people thrive in a type of environment that others despise. Enjoyment aside, what kind of group-think, on average, actually results in the best deliverables? At the end of the day, will the company make enough money to maintain?

Joins or Joints?

Think Tank Christmas Party 2014

Think Tank Christmas Party 2014

I’ve partied with the hippies, the discoverers, exploring code and formulating new software religion by bumping heads along the way. It’s obviously a fairly discursive environment, with lots of debate and no shortage of opinions. Flexi-time is par for the course, with wear-what-you-want, and as for drug use, the celebration of coffee came as close to crossing the border as a daredevil East-Berliner.

Efficiency is the biggest challenge, which might seem counter-intuitive to someone working there. In such a fluid environment, whenever you encounter a technology that makes your neck hairs bristle, the prevailing mind-set is to reinvent it. I’m grossly generalising, but when you keep reinventing wheels you lose as much time as you gain.

We spent so much time exploring new tech and tack, changing formulas, abandoning dead ducks and over-debating method names that I would ultimately have recommended some of the customers to other firms. It was fun for a while, but your thirst for your productivity remains unquenched.

Read more

Blame the Blame-Game

It starts out innocently, a few documents, a few signatures. Before you know it, the product pipeline is enveloped in processes, chains of paperwork, chasing phantom senior figures for signatures to approve features they know nothing about. In government, it’s known as bureaucracy. In IT, it’s a breakdown of trust, leading to the blame game and an accountability whirlpool.

Man_pointing_finger

There are two extremes in how you develop and deploy code:

A: Full Trust

An in-house development team with experienced developers who know the business. You give them the basic requirements and they rapidly breakdown the impact and the work required. With the system fresh in mind, they begin development, perform sufficient testing and, believe it or not, release straight to production. Unsurprisingly, there are issues, but the issues come straight back to the developers – they fix and redeploy. The cycle continues for a while until the product is stable.

Obviously, the developers are paid handsomely, but the planning, admin and validation cost savings are enormous. Read more

Never Say No to Networking

Thanks to Jess for this article she shared (yes, we know it was from you originally Eugene):

When new entrepreneurs ask me for advice, I sometimes tell them to NYFO — Network Your Face Off. Nearly everything I’ve accomplished in the past two years, from speaking on CNN to watching my company cross 1.7 million users in less than a year, can be directly traced back to connections I’ve made and help I’ve received from a network that is vast, diverse, and active.

The best networking suggestion I can offer? Always say yes to invitations, even if it’s not clear what you’ll get out of the meeting. I’m not arguing for long, pointless, unstructured conversations with everyone you meet. But many of my most fruitful relationships have resulted from a meeting or call in which I was not entirely sure what would or would not come of the conversation.

Read more

User Experience in the World of Software

User Experience, more commonly known as UX, in the world of software is essentially the experience the user has while using the system or service you are offering to them. What a lot of people don’t realise is that UX reaches beyond the direct interaction with the system; to the physical realm from the hardware they use to, in my opinion, the people they interact with.

First of all I think I should just differentiate between User Experience and Usability as in my experience they are often thought to be one and the same or very similar, which is a bit of a misconception.

Read more