A Mismatch Between Expectations and Practices

We want performant, scalable, and quality software. We wish to build and test applications that our customers profess their love to and share to their friends.

And yet:

  • We have nonexistent to little unit, performance, API, and integration tests
  • The organization do not closely monitor feature usage statistics
  • Some of us do not exactly feel the pains our customers face
  • We don’t have notifications for outdated dependencies, messy migration scripts, among other failures
  • Some are not curious about understanding how the apps they test and own actually work
  • We have not implemented continuous build tools
  • It is a pain to setup local versions of our applications, even to our own programmers
  • We do not write checks alongside development, we lack executable specifications
  • Some still think that testing and development happen in silos
  • It is difficult to get support for useful infrastructure, as well as recognition for good work
  • Many are comfortable with the status quo

It seems that we usually have our expectations mismatched with our practices. We’re frequently eager to show off our projects but are in many instances less diligent in taking measures about baking quality in, and therefore we fail more often than not. What we need are short feedback loops, continuous monitoring, and improved developer productivity, ownership, and happiness. The difficult thing is, it all starts with better communication and culture.

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Warm Baths

Over the past year I have noticed two things I particularly dislike about my evenings: 1) I feel pretty tired, and 2) I tend to laze and lurk around the world wide web looking for entertainment because I feel drained. Lots of times I don’t feel I end my days in a worthwhile manner, often thinking I could have instead gobbled a chapter or two of a book I wanted to read, or do an hour or so of drawing, or used all that time to catch up with the family or a friend. I don’t have problems with my mornings and afternoons (which often are my productive hours) and I’ve always wanted to spend my nights the same way – doing interesting things, learning new stuff, talking to people, and feeling accomplished.

I’ve thought of ways to change this evening behavior and tested a few of them. I set up alarms to do at a particular time to notify myself that I should stop logging on to the internet and start working on something fruitful. This was useful for some time. When the alarms stopped working, I decided I should just use the time I waste for sleeping since I feel tired anyway. This certainly helped me sleep more but it did not help me get anything extra done. I’ve thought about other probable solutions (changing my waking and sleeping patterns overall, staying up late at the office instead of going home early, etcetera) to force myself to do more of the things I need to do but I have not been able to make good progress until recently, when I started to regularly take warm baths hours before bedtime. It was a surprise that it was a lot easier to will myself to do productive stuff after a heavenly evening bath, and, now that I think about it, it looks like it works because the bath seduces me to log off from the computer and rewards me with extra hours of energy.

Sometimes, solutions have unusual ways of presenting themselves. Also, to change habits you either have to change the triggers or create new ones.

Make The Most Out Of Your Time Online

There was a time in high school when I’ve always brought with me in class a huge red Websters encyclopedia in my backpack. It was not for show nor I was trying to build shoulder muscles, but because I liked to read and discover new things. There were sections in the encyclopedia covering interesting topics – dinosaurs, mythical Gods, Earth and the solar system, etcetera – mostly scientific and historical facts. I’ve always liked to pass the time browsing through journals and magazines. Computers and the internet were not yet available back then in the town where I spent my childhood so I just fed myself with information from physical books.

Today we have the world wide web. Most malls and entertainment plazas already provide free wifi, and mobile carriers have internet plan options for their consumers. Pages and pages of information are within our grasp if we look for it. We can google things. People even provide courses for others for free. And yet many only go online to post a status or to comment or to look at somebody’s profile or photos. Few join courses and self-study, do research and help others solve problems, or share their art to the world.

If we have time to browse for random stuff and lurk around other people’s pages, surely we also have the time to learn the things that are important to us, create things to show online, properly connect to the people who matter to us, and make the most of our time.

No Progress, Unless

We can get our hands on the best productivity tools, we can read up or ask what other people do in order to be successful, we can search and browse the web for answers to our questions, we can be so knowledgeable about the things we need to do to be where we want to be but still never attain the goals we set out to reach.

That is, unless we practice the lessons we learn, unless we put the steps we need to do into a routine, unless we replace the unproductive habits with remarkable ones.

5 Questions About Day-Long Meetings

  • Don’t they lose focus in the conversation as the meeting progresses towards late in the day?
  • What’s the point of writing paragraphs of information in the presentation, only to read them aloud word for word?
  • What value do they derive from talking to everyone in the room at the same time all day?
  • Why have a meeting with everyone in the first place when there is an option to talk only with the people concerned, one by one, explaining specifically what is needed from them?
  • If the point of the meeting is to gather input from the people involved and to come up with an agreed to do list, why not let them read up on the agenda first before meeting up? Why make the meeting day-long by discussing in the length the agenda only then and there?

If You’re Asking Someone For Help

and the person decides to come over, please do not be rude by letting yourself get distracted by other things outside of the matter at hand. Conversations are supposed to be worthwhile exchanges of ideas. If someone gave up some of his/her time off along with their full attention on us, we should offer them similar values, with our utmost respect and sincere thanks.

It Doesn’t Have Any Value

The goals we list year after year and the things we tell ourselves we need to do does not have any value if we remain cooped inside the comfy stations we’ve built to stay stable and safe, if we continue to be lazy people watching entertainment all day, if we never take steps to be where we truly want to be.