Two By Two

If you are not a software developer, I encourage you to read this post anyways. Stick with me and I’ll do my best to make it worth your while…

Software development is better when two developers work together. Called “pair programming”, the agile software development practice literally has two developers on the same computer. Blockages get knocked down a lot faster. Code quality is generally higher. And the benefits go on and on. Here are a few articles on the topic:

Atlassian Blogs – Pair Programming Is Kryptonite!

All About Agile’s take on Pair Programming

Agile Alliance’s Guide to Pair Programming

Wikipedia on Pair Programming

There are many more articles on pair programming and almost as many of them are not favorable as are favorable to the practice. My experience is that pairing typically speeds development and increases quality. It is also my experience that it takes the right kind of developers to work in pairs. If you can get your team to have the right attitude and truly give pair programming a shot you will most likely stick with that approach going forward.

My experience is that pairing typically speeds development and increases quality. It is also my experience that it takes the right kind of developers to work in pairs. If you can get your team to have the right attitude and truly give pair programming a shot you will most likely stick with that approach going forward.

One of the premises of AGILE development is that you adapt it to work for your organization. In fact, a hybrid approach may work in which you pair in certain circumstances and not in others.

There are many types of pairing that are not “equal pairs”. In SCRUM, a SCRUM Master and a Product Owner are often “paired”. Sales teams often pair a sales person with a systems engineer, especially in the case of large technical sales situations. The examples go on and on.

To push the point beyond software development, Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs. Pairing works great on much more than just software development. If you have not tried it, I encourage you to try pairing in your work. Here in Nashville, the music industry is very much a believer in pairing… co-writing is one of the revered practices that has brought us some of the greatest songs of all time.

I also encourage you to try the concept in your personal life. The best relationships are typically those where both people get on the same page and set common goals. Not all goals need to be common… just the key ones for the relationship. And the feeling of “success” when goals are achieved is as great in personal situations as in business scenarios, if not much greater.

We live in a time where there are more “solo-preneurs” (companies of 1 person) than ever before. Even in these situations, finding ways to partner can accelerate business growth and opportunities. In fact, the most successful “solo-preneurs” that I know are also great at partnering.

I also encourage you to try it in your personal life. The best relationships are typically those where both people get on the same page and set common goals. Not all goals need to be common… just the key ones for the relationship. And the feeling of “success” when goals are achieved is as great in personal situations as in business scenarios, if not much greater.

My message to the “soloists” is simple… Soloing is great. Partnering, when done well, can be even more gratifying. Try it and let me know what you think.

 

Awesome Christmas!

This was a fantastic Christmas for our family other than my parents not being able to travel to be with us. Susan’s Mom and Amanda and Chris from Seattle joined the Nashville crew for a great celebration.

Christmas-2015

Susan Cecilia OmiCecilia Therese meeting with her namesake, Susan’s Mom, Therese “Omi”

Cecilia BaptismThis is Cecilia’s First Christmas and
she celebrated her Baptism right before Christmas!

Owen-Christmas2015Owen’s First Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! Thank you God for loving us and sending your son Jesus — fully human and fully God — to teach us and show us the way to eternal life with you! You love us as we are. We are blessed!

We hope you and yours have an amazing awesome 2016!

Apple Watch, Microsoft Band – Why would you want one?

watch-band

Apple, Microsoft, Fitbit, Garmin… everyone wants us to be connected and measured by their device. Why would you want one? Why do I love them?

For those into exercise, the measurement of our workouts and even passive movement is often reason alone. I won’t take the time to justify or debate that here. The benefits seem pretty obvious. What about use outside of working out? Is adding a watch to your productivity arsenal worthwhile?

In my opinion, yes.

Why?

Life untethered. Life more present.

Let me explain…

Sad as this “true confession” may be, I used to walk around with my phone always in my pocket. Sure enough, if I put it down, I would miss an important call and so a round of phone tag would begin. The phone was an appendage of me. And, as it traveled with me, I would find myself glancing at it for any beeps, buzzes or blips. A lot. Often. And this can accidentally be very rude to those you are with.

I was asking another Apple Watch owner how he felt about it. He said exactly the same thing. Our experience is likely shared by many others.

So why is the Watch or Band any different than the phone in this regard?

All alerts come to the phone. Yes, they can be turned off. Yet you usually don’t want to do that for a variety of reasons. Many of us spend as much time (or more) on our phones than we do on our computers, so they are primary communication tools and we want to be informed up to the minute.

Enter the wrist…

You can “filter” your alerts on your Watch or Band. Now you have two levels of filter for your digital connected life… You can have just phone calls and text messages come to your Watch or Band. And maybe those important NHL updates. (Yes, I was born in Canada. It is in my blood.) All other alerts can go to the phone. So the simple act of putting down my phone and continuing to be connected by the Watch or Band lets me get the possibly important notifications while everything else is happily waiting for me when I choose to next pick up the phone. And I can easily see and respond to a text message without getting out of the flow of the current activity from the device on my wrist. Nice.

I feel you!

Haptic feedback is awesome. Having your wrist get “tapped” is a lot less intrusive to others than having your phone on vibrate or, worse yet, give audible notifications in a meeting. I can check on the reason for the tap when it is most convenient. And, because the “filter” is being applied via the wrist notifications that I allow, I am more likely to pay attention to the tap than the constant buzzing of the phone’s notifications which make it hard to distinguish between an app’s “breaking news” versus a more important personal text message.

The benefits of a new level of filtering and becoming more attentive to the present moment are unexpected yet welcomed advantages of adding another device to my digital life. I look forward to your thoughts and experiences here in the comments or on social media. If you don’t get an immediate response from me, it probably means I put my phone down.  😉

 

Why I Love Trello!

Trello is my favorite project management tool. It presents a visual board of cards. Cards can be organized into columns. You can move cards up and down a column. I do so to indicate priority. You can move cards from one column to any other column. I do so to indicate process flow. Set up any columns you want. Define your own “flow”. And share a board in one step. Very cool. Very helpful in a productive workflow. And easy for people who are new to it.

When I first shared Trello with friends there were few of us who knew about it. Congratulations to the Trello team birthed out of Joel Spolsky’s Fog Creek Software. (Joel is also CEO of Stack Overflow, known to most software developers.) Trello has now passed 10 million users! http://jaworski.net/Trello10MM

Trello - Sample Board

The picture above is a sample Trello board. You can include images, documents, etc. Make it what you need it to be.

Trello Card Sample

Click on a Trello card to access or share information, add one or more checklists, attach files, link to web sites and more. Get all the detail around your project items out of strings of emails and into one place. Trello’s filtering will let you quickly find items of interest. Trello’s activity log lets you catch up on all changes across one or multiple boards since your last visit.

When Trello first came out is was great, yet limited. I built a tool called BusyLife to connect Trello and Evernote, letting people organize their Evernote notebooks on a visual Trello board. BusyLife was recognized at the Evernote Developer conference that year as one of the top Evernote add-ons as voted by Evernote users. BusyLife got around four primary issues I had with Evernote.

  1. You cannot drag and drop notes within a notebook to change their order to indicate priority.
  2. Sharing multiple notebooks that were part of a workflow required many steps and was too complex for many users.
  3. You could not see the notes (cards in Trello) from multiple notebooks (columns in Trello) at one time without going to the “All Notes” view and losing all sense of organization at a glance.
  4. Evernote provides great notebooks and rich notes. It does not let you organize workflow visually. 75% (or more) of us think visually.

Trello was originally limited in what it could display on a card and did not allow multiple attachments. It was also limited to six “tags” or labels. The revisions the Trello team have made release after release have brought Trello to the point where it is capable of handling the majority of needs I had identified and now includes unlimited tags, multiple attachments and much more. This let me eliminate the need for the BusyLife link as I made Trello a standalone tool for my project management. I use Evernote’s private and public links to tie a Trello card to an Evernote note when necessary.

Susan and I use Trello for personal projects (selling our home last year, planning trips, etc.) And we use it in Meta Media Partners, LLC to manage all kinds of projects including software development, sales funnels, marketing campaigns, customer support boards, and much more.

Again, congrats to the Trello team! More Trello = Better.

The easiest way to increase your productivity today

The best ideas are often the simplest.

Ivy Lee was a consultant to the big industrial companies many years ago. He went to visit Charles M. Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel Company. During their meeting, Lee promised increased productivity with a simple method. He offered his counsel to Schwab for free, and asked that Charles simply pay him what he felt it was worth after using it for a month.

Charles Schwab did just that and paid him $25,000. In today’s dollars that would be approximately one million dollars.

The advice? Take a 3×5 card and write, in priority order, up to six things that you need to get done the next day. Then, multiple times throughout the day, look at that card.

HERE’S THE KEY: Focus first on number 1 and, when done, out a line through it, marking it done. Do the most important thing first. Keep it in focus and in front of you until it is done.

Do as many of the items, in order, as you can that day. Repeat the process in the evening, preparing for the next day.

Even if you don’t get all 6 items done, you will accomplish the most important things.

And, before you close out your day, define the 3×5 card for the next day.

How well did the strategy work? In five years Bethlehem Steel Company grew into the biggest independent steel producer in the world. Charles Schwab made over $100 million. (If $25,000 was one million in today’s dollars, you can see just how big his fortune truly was!)

What’s on your list?

3x5_Notecard

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