Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I’m a fan of lessons learned. I especially like Stevey’s Google Platform Rant because it’s raw and it’s real, and it’s an insider’s lessons on what they think Amazon does right, and what Google does wrong, and how to fix it. It’s a call to action.
It did not strike me as a bash post (although it might feel like that if you’re on the receiving end of the rubber mallet )… but instead, I see it as a great wake up call by somebody with passion, conviction, and who actually cares about the great opportunity at hand … The opportunity to build an amazing platform, and take a page out of the playbook from companies that do platforms well. I’m a big believer that great change requires a sense of urgency, and that people are often so desensitized because of overload to what’s truly urgent (and important) … that the wake up call needs a bit of sting (and nothing stings like dabs of truth.)
What makes this particular post truly insightful (and keep in mind it can be yanked from the Web), is that it’s from somebody who has spent six years at Amazon and six years at Google. (It really is an insider’s view. In fact, the original post was not meant to be shared publicly.) Steve has the benefit of contrast, and the benefit of seeing how strategies and tactics play out over time. More importantly, Steve has the ability to tune in and surface the vital few surprising insights that count.
Here is my short-list of key take aways from the post:
The meta-lesson reinforces what I’ve come to believe to be true, which is that platforms and services win in the end, and that applications are the pull-through. It’s the applications that make the platform’s capabilities meaningful, contextual, and relevant, and it’s the platform that makes the applications sustainable for the long-haul and consistent where it counts. And the elegance of the platform is what empowers the ecosystem to takes things well beyond what anybody originally dreamed up … as a catalyst for innovation and possibility.
My categories page on Sources of Insight is really a Personal Development Hub (if you think in terms of a Hub and Spoke model.) It’s a one-stop shop for all the categories I use on Sources of Insight. Many of you I know, focus on continuous improvement and are life-long learners, so you’ll appreciate this.
(BTW, be sure to subscribe to Sources of Insight. I’m going to be tackling some key challenges in today’s world including, making a living in the new economy. I’m going to share patterns and practices, as well as stories and case studies of people that make $1,000 a day online, doing what they love as info-preneurs. Way too many people are struggling in the “jobless” economic recovery, and I want to give you the edge and real skills you can use to change your game, or help somebody you know. I can’t promise an easy path, but I can save you some dead-ends, and wasted time and effort, and share some of the short-cuts and methods that actually work)
Maps Help You Find Your Way Around I always think it’s easier to find your way around when you have a map. A friend suggested I create descriptions for my categories to help both humans and search engines figure out what my categories are all about. If nothing else, it would be a great map making exercise.
Today, I added descriptions to the categories, so that you can see the intent behind the various buckets, and I included some samples where it made sense. When I was done writing the descriptions, which turned out to be a two-hour exercise, that I originally thought would be a twenty minute exercise -- it revealed a lot. It revealed a better map of Sources of Insight, going well-beyond just a list of categories and links. It forced me to re-think and rationalize why I chose the various categories that I did, and revaluate whether they are still the right ones.
While there’s more time ahead of Sources of Insight, than behind it … it was good to take a look at the map, which was like taking a look from the balcony, or taking a look from the mountain top. It was easier for me to see where I have a lot more work to do, and where I haven’t done enough to equip you with the right tools and skills for the tough stuff at work, or the challenges in life. I also noticed where some information is a bit too buried and needs to be surfaced and cross-linked in a better way.
The Sources of Insight “Treasure Map” at Your Disposal I’ve created brief descriptions to help you understand the thinking behind each category I use on Sources of Insight. Here is a map to help you find your way around Sources of Insight and to know where to look for key personal development resources at your finger tips:
Call to Action Share Sources of Insight with anybody you know that needs patterns and practices for improving effectiveness. Send them to this page to subscribe to Sources of Insight. There are already several hundred articles on Sources of Insight to help anybody you know get skills to pay the bills and lead a better life … and the best is yet to come.
I’ve made Sources of Insight available on the Kindle. You can find the sign up on Amazon at:
* Note that UK customers can purchase blog subscriptions only from the UK Kindle Store.
If you haven’t taken Sources of Insight for a test-drive, it’s my blog for sharing insight and action for work and life. It’s all about how to make you great, and growing your own personal garden of greatness.
Here are a few of the things you will find …
Cross-Cutting Skills for Life As far as key topics, I cover the following hot spots:
Deep Dives on Skills to Solve Real Problems and Improve Your Abilities I do dive deeps on key topics in a pragmatic way. I basically used what I’ve learned from building prescriptive guidance on the Microsoft patterns & practices team to create a knowledge-based of cross-cutting skills for life. For example, here’s an article on How To Think Like Bill Gates, where I share the non-obvious ways to improve your intellectual horsepower.
Book Nuggets I use books as my short-cut to the latest and greatest thinking and ideas (aside from people and mentors.) I also use books to learn fundamental skills and techniques I can apply on the job. One of my favorite blog posts to write is what I call a “book nugget” where I write about a specific insight or technique from a book, and show how I apply it on the job, or how you might immediately test it in your life. Here are a few of my favorite book nuggets I think you’ll find useful:
Best-Selling Authors Periodically, I feature best-selling authors. They write articles for Sources of Insight about their top lessons or their “ah-ha” surprises in life. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
Great Books I created an extensive book recommendations collection. For many months (well, years now I guess), I’ve spent ~ $300 on books. As you can imagine, I go through a lot of books. Here are a few of my key book recommendation lists:
Great People One of my favorite sources of insight is people. I share and distill lessons learned from a variety of key people. Here are some of my favorites I think you’ll enjoy:
Great Quotes Quotes are one of the simplest ways to share wisdom of the ages and modern sages. The right words really can light up insight or inspire action in new ways. Here are some of my favorite quote lists:
If you find it useful, please share the link with others and write a review on Amazon so others can benefit from your experience.
It’s time to rattle the cage People have been asking me for this, and now it’s finally here. The Kindle version of Getting Results the Agile Way is now available. It’s a personal results system for work and life. Whether you want to find your mojo, or take your personal effectiveness to the next level, or simply have a better day, this book is for you, or somebody you know.
People around the world have shared with me their personal stories and wins. I know a restaurant owner that renovated his business using Getting Results the Agile Way. I know a teacher inspiring her peers to get their game on using Getting Results. I know teams of consultants using Getting Results the Agile Way to achieve better, faster, simpler results and it’s contagious. Even my Mom used it to tackle a few big projects on her house. You can read the testimonials and success stories on Getting Results.com.
This books puts in your hand the same system I’ve used to create high-performing teams, help individuals flourish, and coach teams to unleash their best.
Getting Results in today’s landscape is tough. Our world changes faster than we can keep up. Worse, we don’t always have the best practices for managing focus, managing our time, managing our energy, or even basic productivity. Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results that combines some of the best methods for thinking, feeling, and taking action. To put it another way, Agile Results is a way to help you make the most of work and life.
You are the author of your life. I created this system as a way to put it all together and help you write your story forward. By using three wins to drive your day, your week, your month, and your year, you take charge of your life and live life on your terms. By spending your time on the right things, with the right energy, with the right approach, you unleash your best. As you learn and respond, you build momentum. This momentum carries you forward, supporting everything you do.
This is the playbook I wish somebody gave me. Now, I’m sharing it with you.
Key Features of the Book The book has several compelling features for slicing and dicing the personal effectiveness body of knowledge:
Contents at a Glance The full Getting Results Guide is available for free on Getting Results.com in HTML. This is the contents of the guide at a glance:
Getting Started I’m a fan of making it easy to get started. Like I said, if you simply write down three wins for your day, you’re doing Getting Results. But to help you get started fast, here is the one-page guide on Getting Started with Getting Results.
The Knowledge Base The Getting Results Knowledge Base picks up where the book leaves off. It’s a serious collection of patterns and practices for improving your focus, motivation, time management, and more. The knowledge base includes:
By the way, these are no ordinary guidelines in there. For example, somebody I know is using the focus guidelines to build coping mechanisms for ADD, as an alternative to drugs. If you get a chance to explore the focus guidelines, you’ll see why.
Watch a Short Video Story of Getting Results the Agile Way Ed Jeziersky hops around the world helping doctors and patients deal with large-scale disasters. What does he use to lead his teams? … You guessed it. Here is Ed on Getting Results the Agile Way.
Acknowledgements I have a lot of people to thank for helping me make this book happen. In addition to my loyal readers of Sources of Insight, I’d like to thank the following people for helping me with this book:
Adam Grocholski, Alik Levin, Andrew Kazyrevich, Andy Eunson, Andrea Fox, Anutthara Bharadwaj, Brian Maslowski, Chaitanya Bijwe, Chenelle Bremont, Daniel Rubiolo Mendoza, David K. Stewart, David Wright, David Zinger, Dennis Groves, Don Willits, Donald Latumahina, Dr. Rick Kirschner, Eduardo Jezierski, Eileen Meier, Erin M. Karp, Ethan Zaghmut, Gloria Campbell, Gordon Meier, Janine de Nysschen, Jason Taylor, Jeremy Bostron, Jill Heron, Jimmy May, John Allen, John deVadoss, Julian Gonzalez, Juliet du Preez, Kevin Lam, Larry Brader, Loren Kohnfelder, Mark Curphey, Michael Kropp, Michael Stiefel, Mike de Libero, Mike Torres, Mohammad Al-Sabt, Molly Clark, Olivier Fontana, Patrick Lanfear, Paul Enfield, Per Vonge Nielsen, Peter Larsson, Phil Huang, Prashant Bansode, Praveen Rangarajan, Richard Diver, Rob Boucher Jr., Rohit Sharma, Rudolph Araujo, Samantha Sieverling, Sameer Tarey, Scott Hanselman, Scott Stabbert, Scott Young, Sean Platt, Srinath Vasireddy, Steve Kayser, Tom Draper, Vidya Vrat Agarwal, Wade Mascia.
Key Links at a Glance Here are the key links at a glance:
I’ve updated my Personal Development Books collection. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll notice it’s a lot cleaner and easier to scan. If you haven’t seen it before, hopefully it is one of the most complete lists of personal development books that you’ve come across.
Personal development books hit a sweet spot for me because I’m a fan of continuous improvement and excellence. I’ve found that books are the short-cut in today’s world. While they don’t make up for having great mentors, they do provide a fast path to some of the best principles, patterns, and practices around.
To make this list useful, while keeping it simple, I organized the personal development books into different buckets:
It’s also worth noting that I spend a few hundred dollars on books each month, so I tend to cover a lot of books. Also note that I don’t really just books by their writing, but instead on their effectiveness for delivering prescriptive guidance. I try to find books that solve problems and share useful insights and actions. My main judge for a book is whether it teaches me something relevant that I can use and put into practice.
I’m always growing my collection of personal development books, so feel free to share with me your personal favorites.
I don’t know that I answered it for you, but you can check out my take on what is the meaning of life in my interview on Evolving Beings.
The simple answer is – you make the meaning.
The longer answer is that’s what the journey of life is all about.
What is the meaning of life is a question that has plagued sages and fools and every one in between for a long time. Some people find their answer too little, too late. Some people never find their answer at all. Don’t let that be you, and you can start right here, and start right now, if you haven’t figured it out already.
At the end of the day, you are the author of your life and you write your story forward. The truth is, you even re-write the stories of your past, as you learn more about yourself and as you gain perspective and insight on things. Your lens on life, and your lens on YOU are two ways you actively unfold your story. As you grow, your stories change, and that’s why fate can’t hold a candle to you.
For me, I found that to answer the question to “What is the meaning of life?”, you actually have to ask a different set of questions. In fact, that’s one of the secrets of life, the first or obvious question isn’t always the right question, and the trick is finding the right question to ask. Our brains are powerful and resourceful things … we just have to put the right challenge or question in front of it.
I’ll warn you up front that the interview is long, but I will tell you this that if you want to jump to the punch line, you can hop to the end of the article, and the answers are my gift to you. They may not help you figure out what is the meaning of life, but they can help you figure out what is the meaning of YOUR life, and that my friends, is what life is really all about.
Enjoy my long and winding tail of trials, tribulations, and triumphs as I write my story forward, and continue to explore, What is the Meaning of Life.
Getting Results the Agile Way is a simple time management system for achievers. Whether you are an underdog trying to make the most of what you’ve got, or you are simply somebody with a passion for more from life, you are an achiever in my book. (After all, we are all an underdog at some point in our lives.) This is a system to help you be YOUR best.
As a time management system, Getting Results the Agile Ways is focused on answering two very fundamental questions about time management:
By figuring out what to do, you set the stage for meaningful results. This is all about slowing down to speed up. This also reiterates the idea that less is more. Rather than spread yourself thin, the idea is to focus on what really matters to you, and create meaningful experiences.
This is a very short guide to get you up and running fast with Getting Results the Agile Way …
One of the most valuable lessons I learned early on in Program Management at Microsoft, is that value is in the eye of the beholder.
One common pitfall is throwing a lot of time and effort at things, only to find that when you’re done, nobody cares. If you keep feeling a lack of appreciation, then ask yourself, “Who was I doing it for?” If it was for yourself, was it what you most cared about, or could you have invested the same time in something else and felt like you made a more important impact. If you were doing it for somebody else, ask them whether what you’re working on is really the most important thing to them. If you’re working on a lot of low-priority items, don’t expect to get the rewards. In fact, a pattern is that the more you work on low-priority items, the more you become a dumping ground. The more you become a dumping ground, the busier you get; the busier you get, the more overloaded you will feel. Now the worst happens—you’re overworked, underappreciated, and no fun to be around. By failing to work on what’s valuable and by failing to understand and reset expectations, you’ve worked yourself into an unrewarding, high-stress scenario.
On the flip side, working on the things that you value, inspires your passion, keeps you engaged, and builds momentum. Balance that with things that are valued by others, and be deliberate. Sometimes you have to choose you. Sometimes you have to flex and bend. Sometimes it’s “meet me in the middle.” Sometimes it’s simply reframing what you’re doing in a way that speaks to others, or vice-versa. Simply making mindful choices can help you dial up your passion where it counts. It’s a force multiplier.
To be a more effective Program Manager, start asking the question, “Who’s it for?” or “Who’s asking for that?” or “How important is that?” (and everything is always a trade-off.)
Note -- This tip is from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, a simple time management system, and you can find more free time management tips in the Getting Results Knowledge Base.
What a terrible loss for the world. Steve Jobs was one of my personal heroes. He was an amazing blend of engineer, entrepreneur, and designer. He knew how to bring ideas to life, and he lived with zest. In fact, that’s what I liked most … he had a crazy drive to live life to the max, and push people to new heights.
I’m always a fan of people that take life to a new level, and raise the bar on what’s possible. I have to respect how Steve Jobs made design a first class citizen and baked beauty into the user experience.
Even though he is gone, he has left an amazing legacy and there is much that I will continue to learn from him and the examples he’s set.
It’s old post, but I’ll be reading through my Steve Jobs Lessons Learned. There’s no way I can do the legend justice, but I tried to capture some of the key insights that Steve Jobs shared with the world. I’ll be reading through the post and remembering his contributions, his ideas, and how he influenced our little world in big ways. Most of all, I’ll be reflecting on how he influenced me.
Jariek Robbins, son of Tony Robbins, shares his personal development lessons learned. I asked Jariek to write a guest post for me on his best lessons learned in personal development, and he slammed it home. In his article, “How to Take the Ordinary and Turn it into EXTRAORDINARY!”, he shares how to deal with mundane, boring, and routine tasks, as well as draining activities, and turn them into sources of power and strength.
I’ve long been a fan of Tony Robbins and his ability to “design” life and shape destiny with hard-core thinking skills. I actually first learned about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) from Tony Robbins which is basically a methodology for modeling excellence. If you’re a developer, you’ll appreciate the idea of programming your mind by design, and changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions for your best results. A lot of the Microsoft execs use NLP skills to improve their interpersonal effectiveness, from building rapport, to changing their inner-game, and reframing problems into compelling challenges.
The other thing that Tony Robbins excels at his ability to ask the right questions. Many people can just ask questions. But there’s an art to asking the right questions, and getting deep insights with precision and accuracy.
Jariek Robbins learned many of these skills from his father and uses them to shape his path forward, as well as to coach people and businesses to bring out their best. By asking better questions and modeling success he can speed up results.
Check out Jariek’s article and learn how to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
The press release for Getting Results the Agile Way is now live at Time Management Tips and Time Management Strategies for Achievers. I think the message hits a sweet spot – it’s a time management system for achievers. (One interesting tidbit along those lines is that Getting Results the Agile Way was #2 on the Amazon best sellers list in Germany for “time management”.)
Here are the opening paragraphs:
Some say, “Time is all we have.” To master time is to master life. The secret of time management is to have a trusted system and a collection of time management tips and time management strategies to draw from.
Getting Results the Agile Way, by J.D. Meier, now available on Kindle, is a time management system for achievers focused on meaningful results. The power of Getting Results the Agile Way is that it combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help achievers make the most of what they’ve got.
You can read the rest of the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/10/prweb8914806.htm
If you are an avid quote collector, as many continuous learners are, check out my collection of Life Quotes.
I grouped the life quotes into key categories for easy browsing. I used the following categories for my life quotes:
I selected quotes from a variety of sources including Charles Shulz, Confucius, Emerson, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and more. I’ll need to make another pass and find some life quotes from folks like Bruce Lee.
While there is always the idea of work and life, and the idea of work-life balance, I think that life is pervasive, and it permeates who we are and how we show up at work. The line is a blur and I find the happiest people are those that can express their values on the job, and drive from their life style. The opposite is also true.
I rounded up the life quotes in a way that I think you will find to be very easy to scan and choose your favorites. I do recommend first reading the the top 10, but then hopping around to find three that light your fire or wrinkle your brain in some way. The best quotes hit a problem like a nail on the head. The real beauty of life quotes though is that they take on meaning based on the meaning you give them. It’s like when three people hear the same song, all have a different take away. Quotes are like that.
So please stop by, check out my Life Quotes collection, and share with me your favorite life quotes. I’m always looking to fill my toolkit for life, and life really is better with the right words.
From the Archives Business Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Enterprise Strategy cloud engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring business scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from a business perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
IT Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Cloud-related Enterprise Strategy engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring IT scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from an IT perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
From the Web Time Management Checklist - Here is a checklist for improving your time management skills. It includes proven practices and time-tested strategies and tactics. You can use the checklist to inspect and evaluate your time management skills. You can also use the checklist as a simple set of one-liner reminders to draw from when you need them.
Leadership Checklist - I’ve created a leadership checklist that should act like a hub and spoke of effective leadership practices. The challenge is distilling effective leadership practices into one-liner reminders that are easy to evaluate the behavior, where possible.