J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

June, 2009

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    You 2.0 Free E-Book

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    You20

    Personal Development is one of my passions.  I find and share the principles, patterns, and practices that work.  I have some draft thinking that I'm sharing in my You 2.0 E-Book.  I turned a slide deck into a PDF to make it easier to share.  It's brief (25) pages and quick to flip through.  More importantly, it captures a mash up of some of the most important principles, patterns, and practices for leading from the inside out.  When you drive from the inside out, you amplify your impact and improve your effectiveness.  It also gives you a strong foundation for dealing with life's curve balls.

    Why You 2.0
    Here are a some key benefits:

    • Success by design.  Rather than luck into success, you’ll know your personal combination for results.
    • Living your purpose.  Nothing fuels life like knowing what you want.
      Living your values.  Living your values help you enjoy more moments in your life, a moment at a time.
    • Playing to your strengths.  When you play to your strengths, you improve your energy, and you amplify your results.  It’s the simplest way to get more impact each day.
    • Improved results.  You’ll improve your results.  A little self-knowledge goes a long way.  You’ll be a better, faster, stronger you for whatever you want.

    Read my post and download the You 2.0 E-Book on Sources of Insight.

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    Influencer - The Power to Change Anything

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    Whether you need to change something in your life or make changes at work, influence is your friend.  I just finished a 2 day course on influence.  It exceeded my expectations.  It was jam packed with insight and action I can use on the job.  I walked away with an effective framework for diagnosing problems of all shapes and sizes.  I think of it as "skilled change management."  Rather than push on a problem from one angle or throw one solution at it, I can inspect the problem from multiple dimensions and find the best leverage points.  The heart of the approach is thinking in terms of motivation and ability, and then analyzing from a personal, social, and structural perspective.  Another key is finding and focusing on vital behaviors that exponentially improve your results.

    I wrote up my notes from my training, put them on my other blog, Sources of Insight.  The post is Influencer - The Power to Change Anything.  So far, I've shared my notes from day 1, but I still need to write up and share notes from day 2.

    Enjoy.

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    Lean Software Development

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    I'm honored to have a guest post on Shaping Software from Corey Ladas on Introduction to Lean Software Development.  Corey is a product development methodologist and the author of Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development.

    In the post, Corey explains the principles of Lean Thinking, the origins of Lean Thinking,  the metaphor school of Lean Software Development and the workflow school of Lean Software Development.

    Read Corey's post Introduction to Lean Software Development.

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    Six Sources of Influence

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    If you need to be a change agent at work, or make things happen in your life, Six Sources of Influence is for you.  I wrote up a post on Six Sources of Influence on my Sources of Insight blog.  The Six Sources of Influence was my favorite part of my Influencer Training here at Microsoft.   The focus of the training was to improve my skills at analyzing and executing change, especially for persistent or resistant problems.  I'm a fan of the model and I'm using it almost daily.

    The power of the Six Sources of Influence is that rather than get stuck in a default pattern or a one-trick pony routine, you can get a better lens on the situation by evaluating the six sources.  To visualize the model, think of a simple two-column table of motivation and ability, sliced in 3 parts: personal, social, and structural.  You can then walk the model to figure out the key leverage points or centers of gravity.  Instead of lucking into success, you can target your time and effort to actually produce more effective change and get results.

    Check out my post on Six Sources of Influence and take it for a test drive.

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    Acceptance Test Engineering Guide Beta 2 Now Available

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    Our patterns & practices Acceptance Test Engineering Guide, Volume 1 (Beta 2) is now available on CodePlex.  The working definition that the team is using for acceptance testing is the planned evaluation of a system by customers and customer proxies to assess to what degree it satisfies their expectations.

    Common Scenarios
    Here are the key scenarios the guide addresses:

    • How to Plan for Acceptance Testing
    • What Kinds of Acceptance Tests to Run
    • How to Create and Run Acceptance Tests
    • Defining What “Done” Means
    • How to Justify Your Approach
    • How to Streamline Your Acceptance Process

    Parts

    • Part I - Thinking About Acceptance
    • Part II - Perspectives on Acceptance
    • Part III - Acceptance Software

    Chapters

    • Chapter 1            The Acceptance Process
    • Chapter 2            Decision-Making Model
    • Chapter 3            Project Context Model
    • Chapter 4            System Requirements Model
    • Chapter 5            Risk Model
    • Chapter 6            Doneness Model
    • Chapter 7            Business Lead’s Perspective
    • Chapter 8            Product Manager’s Perspective
    • Chapter 9            Test Manager’s Perspective
    • Chapter 10          Development Manager’s Perspective
    • Chapter 11          User Experience Specialist’s Perspective
    • Chapter 12          Operations Manager’s Perspective
    • Chapter 13          Solution Architect’s Perspective
    • Chapter 14          Enterprise Architect’s Perspective
    • Chapter 15          Legal Perspective
    • Chapter 16          Planning for Acceptance
    • Chapter 17          Assessing Software
    • Chapter 18          Managing the Acceptance Process
    • Chapter 19          Streamlining the Acceptance Process

    Team
    Here is the authoring team:

    • Grigori Melnik
    • Gerard Meszaros
    • Jon Bach

    Contributors / Reviewers
    Here are the key contributors and reviewers:

    • Michael Puleio
    • Rohit Sharma
    • RoAnn Corbisier
    • Hakan Erdogmus
    • Dennis DeWitt

    Key Links

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Patterns and Practices of Lean Software Development

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    I have a guest post on Shaping Software from Corey Ladas on Patterns and Practices of Lean Software Development.  This is a follow up to Corey's previous post, Introduction to Lean Software Development.   Several readers had ask for more information on the principles, patterns, and practices of Lean Software Development.  Corey's latest guest post is in response to this request and provides a map and narrative of how some key principles, patterns, and practices can help support Lean Software Development.

    Read Corey's post, Patterns and Practices of Lean Software Development.

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    Lessons Learned in patterns and practices

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    I'm a fan of continuous learning.  My post Lessons Learned in patterns & practices on Shaping Software summarizes some of my best lessons.  It's from the school of hard knocks.  I've been lucky enough to have some great mentors that have really helped me unleash my best.  I've also been lucky enough to work on a variety of challenging projects that have grown my experience and capabilities beyond what I ever expected.  The post is my attempt to both remind myself of the key lessons and to share those lessons with you.  Absorb what is useful.

    Top Ten Lessons
    Here's a list of the top 10 lessons:

    • Win the heart, the mind follows.
    • Know the tests for success.
    • Fix time, flex scope.
    • Use the system to educate.
    • Work with the right people, on the right problems, making the right impact.
    • Have the right people in the room asking the right questions.
    • Sell the vision.
    • Make it a project.
    • Know what you're optimizing.
    • Turn chickens into pigs.

    One of the ways I've learned to carry lessons forward is to turn them into terse little guidelines.  It makes them sticky and easier to recall.  I also find that some of my best mentors tend to have a way with words and they share their advice as pithy sayings.

    For more lessons and elaboration check out my post, Lessons Learned in patterns and practices.

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    Productivity Personas

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    I wrote a post on Productivity Personas at Sources of Insight.  It's simply a way to identify and label some common behaviors you see in yourself and others when it comes to producing results.  Once you know the personas, you can effectively switch hats and use the right personas for the job.  Using these personas, you can also better analyze team performance.  For example, if you have a bunch of "starters" but no "finishers" you might be in trouble bringing things to closure.  Here's a list of the personas:

    • Starter
    • Finisher
    • Thinker
    • Doer
    • Simplifier
    • Maximizer
    • Critic
    • Can do
    • Opportunist
    • Perfectionist
    • Details
    • Big Picture
    • Facts and figures
    • Controller
    • Tinkerer
    • Marketer
    • Achiever
    • Randomizer
    • Daydreamer
    • Procrastinator

    For a quick summary of the personas, check out Productivity Personas.

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    Lessons in Software from Alok Srivastava

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    I have a guest post, Lessons in Software from Alok Srivastava, on Shaping Software.  Alok is a solution architect at Microsoft with several years of experience in large scale, distributed systems.  In this post, he shares his lessons learned in software.  Here is a summary of his lessons:

    • Lesson 1. Software development is a team sport.
    • Lesson 2. More lines-of-code does not mean better software.
    • Lesson 3. The Cloud is an inflection point.
    • Lesson 4. Scalability, performance and diagnostic ability are better achieved at design time.
    • Lesson 5. User experience and user expectation change continuously that is why UI projects are never done.
    • Lesson 6. Software maintainability is a key to longer life for any software.
    • Lesson 7. Development process should help development produce good quality software, if it comes in your way change it.
    • Lesson 8. Take agility with a grain of salt; result –oriented software development is what agility should help you gain.
    • Lesson 9. A great software engineer never stops working.
    • Lesson 10. Know the keys to writing great software; magic isn’t one of them.

    You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lessons In Software from Alok Srivastava.

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    Dr. K on How To Design a Fulfilling Life

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    I'm honored to have a guest post on Sources of Insight from Dr. Rick Kirschner (aka Dr.K on How To Design a Fulfilling Life.  Dr. K is the best-selling author of Dealing with People You Can't Stand.  If you're an engineer or simply like doing things by design, Dr. K shares some of his thoughts on how to live a life by design vs. by default.  Here's a summary of his lessons:

    • #1: Self Protection is the priority mission.
    • #2: Self Maintenance is the secondary mission.
    • #3: Create Something is your third mission.
    • #4: Connection is the fourth mission.
    • #5: Service is the fifth mission.

    For me, the guiding rule that helps me shape my life is, "give your best where you have your best to give."  It forces me to focus on my strengths and lift others up.

    Read How To Design a Fulfilling Life.

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    Sources of Insight is 10 Months Old

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    My other little blog is growing up so fast ... Sources of insight is 10 months old.   I originally started it to improve my blogging skills as well as to put more focus on personal development.  I mentor a lot at work, so I used Sources of Insight as a channel to share patterns and practices for improving effectiveness.  I named it Sources of Insight because I draw from books, people, and quotes, as well as other sources (such as movies.)  It also reflects a lot of my learning on the job and experience from the school of hard knocks.  I try to keep the tone less technical so more people can enjoy it, while still providing deep insights.

    I've learned a lot along the way.  The biggest lesson I've learned is that working on a blog is working on your life.  It's like getting up to bat and each post is a chance to hit the ball out of the park, or maybe get a single or double, or maybe just strike out.  There's a definite ebb and flow to it, just like life.  I think that's what I like about it.

    If you stop by Sources of Insight, be sure to say, "hi."  Tell me what you like, don't like or want more of.  The key goal on Sources of Insight is to share the best patterns and practices for personal development.   If you don't know where to start, I recommend starting with the About, then You 2.0, and then Living Your Process.   If you need a boost of motivation, cherry pick your favorites from my list of Motivation Quotes.   If you want to fill your quiver with some of the best techniques for getting results, then be sure to read Rituals for Results.   It's a fast tour of some sure-fire ways to improve your results.

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