Keeping the Team Together

It’s hard work keeping a team together, everyone has a different set of work ethics and commitment that drive their unique approach.

Sometimes they jive and sometimes they don’t.

The worst thing you can do to someone on your team mid-project is to write them off – “not good enough, not worthy of our team, we’ll drop you shortly” because it sends that signal loud and clear and from there – What would you do?  How would you react to being that person written off?  Why bother if they are going to drop you?  Perhaps your deliverables didn’t line up the way they were supposed to, perhaps you had something going on in your personal life that prevented you from finishing on time.  Whatever the reason is, if you gave your all only to be written off, what would that do to your output?


It’d drop like a rock and then there’d be a real reason for you to be written off.

Instead, before you get to writing someone off…

  • Sit them down.
  • Work with them.
  • Find out what’s wrong.
  • Is there a fit or a miss?
  • Can anything be done?
  • Build them up for what they have accomplished.
  • Set them up for success.

Who knows, maybe there is no fit and things really are not going to work out, but maybe, maybe you missed something the first time around and maybe there is a spark there needing to be kindled.

Sounds like fluff?

I found the best member of a project team this way that probably would have been overlooked.

The Time Between the Failures

I can look at a sketch and go – I can draw that.

I can sit down to draw it and it does not come out how I envisioned it.

I can look at another sketch and go – I can draw THAT.

I can sit down again to draw it and it STILL does not come out how I envisioned it.

And then I can walk away for a week not wanting to try again because I really focused for a whole 60 minutes and it didn’t work.

We’re not afraid of the failure while we are doing it (hey I’m there I’m trying my best, let’s do this), what we are afraid of is how long we are going to keep failing and having to try again and again and again.

There’s a difference, one is to keep going when you’re already in the trenches, the other is to jump back into the trenches on a daily basis, hopeful this is the time you’re going to breakthrough.

It’s not the failures that hurt us, it’s the time between the failures.

The Evolution of Developer Conferences

The yearly conference is a welcome addition to any developer’s planned events for the year.

It’s an opportunity to meet with colleagues around the world, meet new friends, perhaps meet with customers and of course, to relax and learn some new tricks of the trade.

Boiled down to two words: Collaboration and Learning.

This was 5 years ago, now there is a third component to Developer Conferences – “Exclusivity”.

Aaah yes, now some (not all) conferences are managed based on how exclusive they are, how many people can sign up within X minutes, how many limited seats will be filled and by whom.  It’s now a contest for the conference to be sold out the fastest and get the best gift even before the speakers and sessions are announced.

So if you don’t know what you are signing up for, and you don’t know who of your fellow colleagues are going to be there and you don’t know what you are going to learn – what are you signing up for?

The Hype.

And no matter how much you wish to deny it, you never leave the Hype having had your expectations exceed – it always ends up being “meh”.

Why no homework?

Disclaimer: I am not a teacher by trade.

There is a trend in some schools to not give children homework – “It takes too long”, “I can’t observe what they are doing”, “How do I know their parents aren’t doing it for them?”, etc, etc.

All potentially valid reasons for not sending homework home with children.  However, when this happens, I believe the children are being robbed of a few lessons they would not otherwise get a chance to practice.

Organization  – I have all this work to do this week, I better plan out when to do what.

Responsibility – If I am to do these extra-curricular activities, it is my responsibility to ensure that I have completed everything.

Time Management – If I am not able to do work tonight, I better start getting this done now.

Three lessons – Organization, Responsibility and Time Management – three invaluable lessons that might not make a big deal when considered against the scope of the work, but three lessons that set that child up for success so that when they start getting homework they know how to work the problem – Get Organized.  Be Responsible.  Manage My Time.

In a World… of Constant Relaunches

Remember when you were a kid, starting to collect to comic books at issue #373 of your favourite Superhero?

What went through your mind?  What was the first thing?

That before issue #374 and beyond you would try to collect as many back issues as possible to understand everything about your favourite character, every back story and side romance, every change in powers and team make-up all so you could have the complete picture.

Everyone loves a new project, it’s fresh and pure and has no history behind it – we are baggage free, the team is new and we are ready to make history.

Except for one thing…

The history of the project (of the book) is what makes the characters (and the team) so valuable and admired by others.  We want the back-story – “here’s why I had to code it that way” – “I never would have taken that approach otherwise, how inventive”.  We can learn so much from our own history that the baggage becomes something of value.

The way comic books are constantly relaunching themselves every 1 or 2 years is akin to the trend in technology where an upgraded project is treated as the ninth wonder of the world all because it is now a wave or phase or special edition or some other gimmick.

Don’t dump the history for a quick win, play the long game, learn the history, revel in it and growth with it.