J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Sources of Insight Refresh: Insights and Actions for Work and Life at Your Fingertips

Sources of Insight Refresh: Insights and Actions for Work and Life at Your Fingertips

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I’ve done another intensive user experience exercise to improve Sources of Insight.image

Sources of Insight is a knowledge base of principles, patterns, and practices for helping you get better results in work and life.

A friendly way of looking at it is:

“Skills to pay the bills and lead a better life.”

I started the site a few years back to help give people an advantage in work and life.  We don’t get a great playbook when we start out, and there are a lot of skills that we don’t learn in school.  For example, motivation, productivity, time management, personal development, etc.

I’ve used Sources of Insight as a clearinghouse of ideas you can experiment with to help you figure out better ways for better days, find your breakthroughs, and get over some issues that might be holding you back.

You can use Sources of Insight for several things, including, but not limited to:

  1. Re-imagine yourself with You 2.0  (this will help you build your firm foundation and find your way forward in a sustainable way)
  2. Find the best books on different topics including Business Books, Leadership Books, Personal Development Books, and Time Management Books.
  3. Inspire yourself with wisdom of the ages and modern sages in the form of great quotes.   You’ll find hand-crafted collections of quotes including Inspirational QuotesLeadership Quotes, Life Quotes, and Simplicity Quotes
  4. Learn lessons from the great ones, both famous folks and ordinary people that do extraordinary things.  My Great People page includes lessons learned from Bruce Lee, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Stephen Covey, Steve Jobs, and Tony Robbins.
  5. Fill your bag of tricks with 101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life.
  6. Learn a powerful results system to help you master productivity, time management, and work-life balance with 30 Days of Getting Results.
  7. Learn some of the best insights from insightful people and best-selling authors.  My Special Guests page includes guest posts from Al Riese (author of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding),  Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project), Jim Kouzes (author of The Leadership Challenge), Michael Michalko (author of THINKERTOYS), and more.

 

I also do hard-core Book Reviews.   They are like mini-movie trailers but for books and they give you a deep dive into significant highlights from the book.   Here is an example of my book review of The Charge.

So what exactly did I do in terms of improving the user experience for Sources of Insight?

I took a look at all the feedback and looked for patterns and things that I thought could be improved.  I tested multiple combinations of layouts and changes to things like menu items and placement.  Here’s a highlight of some of the more important changes that overall should help create a better user experience:

  1. Simplified the menu and fixed some quirks
  2. Smaller home page with more focus and quick jumps to hot items
  3. Added an Explore menu item.

I made a number of other changes, too, but I think the addition of the Explore page is what will make a big difference for a lot of people.  You’ll want to bookmark the Explore page because it’s got enough articles that you’ll want to go back to.   It features key articles for Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Personal Development, Personal Effectiveness, and Productivity.

Each time you Explore, you bound to walk away with some insight and action you can immediately apply to work or life for instant impact.

I’m still in the process of making improvements so if you have more ideas, be sure to send my way.

  • J.D Meier, this is all well and good if your working at Microsoft (I assume) but it doesn't directly correlate to the lone programmer working in small business.

    In fact the challenges are far greater. It's not yourself that is the enemy but rather other people in the business who want to see you fall flat on your face regardless if your willing to drop everything your doing to support their needs. Simply because they do not understand what you do ?

    This may not be the forum for this type of question. Is it better to just move on even though you love your work ?

  • Hey Dragan,

    Actually, it very much correlates to the lone programmer working in a small business.

    But, you'll have to learn new skills and expand your capabilities -- effectively, you have to "own it." (And be careful not to fall into the trap of wishing or wanting that not to be the case.)

    I could write an elaborate post on this, but I'll try to paint a quick picture here:

    * What if you were the lone programmer that could easily articulate the business impact of using XYZ?

    * What if you were the lone programmer who could reduce time to market because you've built better tech capabilities for the small business? (adding automation here and simplification there)

    * What if you were the long programmer who could bring new business insights by integrating some of the emerging BI capabilities?

    * What if you were the lone programmer who helped the business leaders make better technology bets?

    * What if you were the lone programmer who helped the business increase their agility?

    While sometimes it's great to move on and land where the grass is greener, it's not always the case.  Wherever you go, you take you with you, so a better strategy is to be able to grow the greener grass right under your feet.  (Which, interestingly, is the idea of this post -- creating new value)

    How to do some of this in a pragmatic way?

    1.  Learn to speak in terms of benefits and KPIs.  If you can quickly translate the impact of what you do into business speak, you'll breathe new life and support into what you do.   Two books that will help are Financial Intelligence for IT Professionals, by Karent Berman and Key Performance Indicators by Bernard Marr.

    2.  Learn the art and science of change leadership, and how to influence without authority.  This will help you stay out of trouble, while reaping the rewards of being an effective change artist.  Start with the book, Influence without Authority.  Next, read the book Influencer.   Then, to really seal the deal, get certified in Change Leadership -- there is an actual discipline, and it will serve you well for a lifetime.

    3.  Find a simple way to build storyboards where business leaders can easily see how you are making the world a better place for them, the business, and their customers.  This might be a simple as sketching on a whiteboard.  Show them how your development efforts create new possibilities and change the business capabilities in ways that make things better, faster, cheaper.

    If you do these things and learn these skills, you will rise above the noise of being a commodity, and you will be on the leading edge of the wave of change in the IT industry.

    It's one thing to create value.  It's another to articulate it.  

    Sometimes, people just need help to see the value of what you do in a way that speaks to them in a way they can understand.

  • Yes, I see. Thanks for the insight and direction.

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