Monday, June 01, 2009

Passionate Programmer

Chad Fowler's The Passionate Programmer is a rewrite of his earlier book on how to improve your career in software development, not a guide to finding love using Ruby scripts to mine craigslist. I read it anyway.

Today I'd like to take a quick look at #21, "The Daily Hit". The concept is to, each day, "have some kind of outstanding accomplishment to report to [your] manager, some idea [you] had thought of or implemented that would make [your] department better."

There are a couple of interesting aspects to this. First, is it forces you to break work down into small enough chunks that you can get something done in a day.  The second is that improvement part. Thinking of, and implementing, small improvements every day is closely related to a Lean concept called Kaizen. The third is that reporting and tracking these things really helps demonstrate your value to the organization.  While it seems annoying, and perhaps a bit like boasting, to have to market yourself to your boss or customer or whomever, it actually creates a more positive relationship, because it forces communication about positive subjects.  Having at least one of these ready for a meeting like a Daily Scrum is a good idea- it can even set the tone of accomplishment.

Keeping it positive is really important. A ratio of nine positive to one negative feedback item is what the Manager Tools guys recommend. A key aspect of making Lean work is that it is not about blame. It is about admitting that things are never perfect, or even if they are, the context will change and make them imperfect.  We face a lot of people challenges in the world of work. There are constant machinations of status and power, siphoning off of high profile work and dumping of boring work.  We can't let this prevent us from doing good things. We need to make the assumption that there are more good people in the environment than bad, and building up a network of allies by providing them with support when needed, while also marketing the fact that we are providing that support, will make sure that there is someone out there who has our back. Help people get better.

So, get your daily hit. Communicate what your up to. Do it again tomorrow...

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