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Quantum theory says, “the mere act of observing an experiment changes its outcome.” What that tells me; and what I’ve found in all my experience working with great leaders, is that successful outcomes come from a dance between both strategy and tactics. Especially for first-time projects. That is, you don’t spend all your time on strategy, you also don’t spend all your time on tactics. Instead, you spend the right amount of time going back and forth between them.
This might seem “duh”, but most business insights are that way.
Let me explain the rationale.
Strategy is a goal and a plan to get there. Tactics are the individual actions necessary fulfill the plan and reach the goal.
If you put all your effort on strategy, you might find yourself wrestling a big hairy audacious goal, which can be overwhelming. You’ve spent the a week or 2 creating a large strategy presentation deck and now the only natural course is to get buy in from your management and peers. After which you’re in an iterative mode, revising your strategy deck and re-pitching the strategy.
What you’ve also lost is the insight that you get from working on tactics. these learnings can give you insight to switch the strategy for the better. It’s important to keep your plans open to such “ah-ha” moments and not stifle them because they go off “script”.
On the other hand, if you spend all your days on tactics without a strategy, you’ll just be doing things without a clear vision of where you want to be or how you’ll get there. People around or under your management won’t be able to help you because they don’t know where you are going with it.
Without a destination you can find yourself going off tangent and not working towards the big picture. It also becomes difficult to truthfully justify your results when you don’t know where you are going.
To sum it up, don’t spend too much of your time in one place, instead dedicate time going back and forth: strategy, tactics, strategy, tactics, and so on. Set the pace for your intervals based on your specific situation. The intervals don’t have to be equal or regimented.
I’ve observed many leaders take this approach and it helps them:
Hope this helps, thank you for reading. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments, likes, and shares.
At Local Wisdom, we’ve been a Subversion shop for a while, but it seems like all the cool kids are using Git now. From my understanding there’s a few reasons to move from SVN to Git and some of the big ones are:
1. It’s distributed. You don’t need to be connected online to work on code a make commits. When you want to “commit” to the server that everyone else on your team can pull from, you do a “push”
2. The branching and merging is much better and results in less conflicts.
3. Much faster to complete branching and merging since it all happens locally.
Speaking for myself, I’ve never had an issue with 1 and 3, but number 2 is definitely something I find annoying with SVN. I’ve had changes occur on 2 functions that are near each other, but not the same function and a conflict arises. It also seems the further out you are from the last time you’ve merged, the more likely a conflict will happen (but that does make sense). Anyway, we’re going to try Git for 1 particular internal project to see if it’s that much better at branching and merging than SVN. Installing for Windows isn’t too bad once you’ve found a good run through like they have on beanstalkapp.com.
Direct link to the files themselves:
Accept the default options until you get to this screen and choose “Run Git from the Windows Command Prompt”
On this screen, leave default of “Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings”
Now we need to setup the SSH key to communicate with the Git server that holds the master Repo. We’re going to be using OpenSSH to create our keys which was installed with our Git installation. Right click on desktop and choose Git Bash:
At the prompt type in:
ssh-keygen -t rsa
It will ask for location (leave at default: C:\Users\username\.ssh) and pass phrase (you can leave blank or put one in. If you put in, you’ll need to put in every time you connect to the main Git server).
The keys are now generated and you can open up the file , open the file C:\Users\username\.ssh\id_rsa.pub with a notepad. This file is your public key and you’ll want to copy it to your Beanstalk profile (under the Profile and Settings >> Keys >> Add Public Key).
Your SSH public key should look something like this:
Now let’s check if the connection to the remote repository works. Run Git Bash, and enter this command:
When authenticating or later when trying to connect to Git repository most likely you will encounter a message that looks like this:
The authenticity of host 'accountname.
gitproviderdomain.com (xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx)' can't be established. RSA key fingerprint is xx:yy:zz:xx:yy:zz:xx:yy:zz. Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
You can type “yes”
You were successfully authenticated as [email] in accountname.
Now install TortoiseGit: http://code.google.com/p/tortoisegit/
Make sure to select OpenSSH
When done, Right click on desktop >> TortoiseGit >> Settings
And put in the basic settings used for your Git Repo like Name and Email:
Now lets pull the Repo down locally, use Git Clone:
And finally fill in the Repo URL to pull from (if you did set a Pass Phrase earlier for your SSH keys, you’ll need to enter it when prompted) and where you want to Repo to reside locally:
That should do it, hope you found this helpful and I’ll write a follow up piece after we’ve been using Git for a while to let you know if all this setup was worth it and if Git was better then SVN.
Conducting company meetings can be costly and eat up valuable time, which is why it’s important to make sure they are as productive as possible. Check out the meeting cost calculator that Mike found a few months ago. Here at Local Wisdom, we try to keep our meetings efficient and enjoyable. There are a few things we do before, during and after the meeting to make sure that we accomplish our goals. We’ve outlined some guidelines below to help you.
First of all, it’s important to have fun throughout the day. Creativity emerges when people in the room are enjoying themselves and engaging in conversation, so it’s important to laugh often.
Every meeting should have a facilitator who enforces the ground rules and keeps everything running smoothly. The leader is responsible for creating the schedule and agenda. Overall, it is this person’s job to focus all of the people in the room so that they are able to stay on task and move forward.
Who to Invite
Be careful about who you invite and always make sure to do your homework first. Those who are involved with the projects that are going to be discussed should definitely be invited. However, it might be beneficial to also include people who can provide input on the topic or gain knowledge about what is being discussed.
Provide as much advanced notice as possible. When meetings are planned ahead of time it is more likely that people will have clear calendars and be able to attend. Scheduling a meeting early also gives you a deadline to have certain work completed before the start of the meeting. Waiting until work is completed before scheduling the meeting can cause delays and missed opportunities.
Set up recurring meetings if you find you need to talk about the same topics or projects with the same group. For example, we began scheduling “scrum” times for reviewing work and answering questions. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning we meet to review architecture and design at a standing time. We no longer have to juggle times and locations for meetings and reviews. It may take a week or two to get this rolling but everyone’s schedule will eventually adjust around it.
State the Objective and Agenda
Whether the meeting is scheduled or standing, it’s important to state the objectives and agenda to ensure everyone is on the same page from the start. The objective should define what should be accomplished by the end of the meeting. The agenda could include a list of topics, activities, or discussions that will help us to achieve our meeting objectives. The goals and agenda should also be written somewhere for everyone to see. We keep a standard area of the whiteboard dedicated to writing these out. Following an agenda will help keep the meeting organized and productive.
Once the objectives and agenda are reiterated, introduce everyone in the room quickly and explain why they’re there. Sometimes not everyone is required to be there the whole time, especially during reoccurring meetings. As certain topics become irrelevant to people, they should be free to go if they wish.
It’s not uncommon for discussions to go into tangents. Identifying topics that are not specifically aimed at key points, but may be important later, are called our parking lot items. We take note of these topics and come back to them at a later time or maybe even a different meeting. This approach keeps the focus on the topic at hand and helps us achieve our meeting objectives.
Convergent and Divergent Thinking
Use convergent and divergent thinking in order to stay organized during ideation meetings. Convergent thinking encourages participants to think out loud and speak their ideas without any parameters. Ideas, good, bad, or irrelevant, are all accepted. Divergent thinking brings everything together and identifies which ideas are pertinent and can be made actionable. Splitting the two ways of thinking provides time for imagination while keeping a realistic mindset.
Who’s Doing What and When
At the end of the meeting, review who is doing what and by when. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing next. Give people time to ask questions and get clarity. A follow up email of the meeting minutes should be sent to the attendees.
Following these guidelines has helped Local Wisdom stay efficient while not being stuffy and boring. There are hundreds of other meeting tips and tricks, what are some ways that your company conducts effective meetings and how have they been beneficial?
It’s not uncommon for people working in the IT industry, or any area for that matter, to want to hold onto something that sets them apart from their colleagues. There will always be Information Technology professionals who prefer to keep their knowledge to themselves. With the job market what it is today, it’s likely that those who are intentionally hoarding information do so because they believe it keeps them from becoming expendable and secures their position within the company. Although there are pros and cons to hoarding information, most would agree that sharing information with colleagues is beneficial to the growth and value of both a company and an individual.
There are a couple of reasons why a person would feel like they need to hold onto information that only they know. One of the main reasons is because they feel insecure. The employee might feel uncertain about the quality of their work or their job security so they feel it is important to hold onto a personal skill that they possess in order to remain competitive in the company. Others may just feel the need to hide information from their peers in order to feed their own egos. On one extreme side of hoarding you make yourself important because you are the bottleneck. People always have to go through you as a gateway because you are the gatekeeper. Everything is very tightly controlled by that person.
While there are few cases where hoarding information helps the individual, most of the time this type of behavior actually lessens their value. When encountering a situation where a colleague is unwilling to share, co-workers often find ways around them because it is apparent that they are not really a team player. Also, by sharing your knowledge you put people in the position to support you as you move up in the company. Without learning from or sharing with your peers there is little room for growth and improvement. As a result, a hoarder might become stuck in the same position for a long time.
Now that the disadvantages have been discussed it is important to know the some of the reasons why a collaborative work environment is beneficial to a company and an individual.
Let’s say the person didn’t show tell-tale signs they’re a hoarder. There are a couple of ways to approach this situation if hoarding becomes a problem within a company.
Local Wisdom incorporates the sharing of knowledge among the team into our corporate structure. We emphasize the importance, advantages, and benefits of sharing on both the company and each person’s career. So, if everyone seems to benefit from working in a collaborative environment, why does hoarding information remain a problem in some companies? Have you experienced working with a person who is reluctant or refuses to share information? How was your situation handled? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
We’ve been using Subversion in-house for our version control for a 2-3 years now, but switched over to Beanstalk to not have to deal with maintaining it and worrying about keeping it running. It’s worked out great, and I highly recommend them for your Version Control Hosting needs: http://beanstalkapp.com/
It’s part of Wildbit LLC and they also work out of IndyHall in Philly which is a great co-working space and community for various types of disciplines. It’s always great to be able to support local talent when possible, and these guys really have a bunch of great products.
With that said, I got a couple of guides from them that I though I should share with everyone. First is an introduction to version control and it goes over these topics:
Why is version control important?
The basic concepts
Revisions and Changesets
Diffing (or, viewing the differences)
Branching and merging
Types of Version Control Systems
That guide is here: http://guides.beanstalkapp.com/version-control/intro-to-version-control.html#why-is-version-control-important
The next is which Version Control should you use:
IDE Integration with Subversion
IDE Integration with Git
That guide is here: http://guides.beanstalkapp.com/version-control/clients.html
The digital industry is characterized by teamwork and in any achievement driven projects there will be conflict, obstacles and bad news. This is a simple but effective philosophy that we utilize at Local Wisdom for communicating both internally amongst the team and with clients or outside partners to make certain that we are always as productive and collaborative as possible.
1. Be Matter of Fact
In achieving any group objective there is information that needs to be passed from team member to team member. Speaking factually, directly and self-contained will make sure that the information is delivered correctly and efficiently. For example if a client wishes to move a project’s timeline up to a point where it becomes unrealistic, simply state fact and deliver the message.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to deliver within our level of quality in this timeframe…”
2. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Like I said, there is bad news in any collaborative effort. Communicating bad information in a positive manner will maintain the morale of the project and move past the problem. Likewise, appreciate successes and react to them positively, as deserved. In the timeline example, maintain a positive outlook during discussions of a new deadline so that the conversation remains pleasant and therefore constructive.
“…I do understand your needs and we can accommodate some of them…”
3. Always Move Forward Towards a Consensus or Objective
When there is conflict do not break down the collaborative structure. Maintain a collective attitude and always continue to move forward through the problem to the goal. To do this it is important to always be prepared when encountering a conversation. Before talking be sure to have thought out the options and contingencies that are possible. When approaching the client with the news of the deadline difficulties do not simply say that you cannot meet it, give option. Perhaps suggest proceeding with the project in phases or compromising a new timeline. Focus on forward thinking.
“… We can deliver X & Y deliverable within the timeframe or can we leave the timeframe as it previously was?”
With these three points in mind it is additionally important to create a common language and culture among the team and company. This language is important both for internal communications and when talking to clients and/or partners. Creating a common culture will empower the team both on an individual basis and as a whole as it gives its members a feeling of being part of a bigger picture.
By the way, the philosophy can be used in email and digital communications, but it works best in face-to-face or phone conversations. When dealing with difficult situations, you want to keep it personal and human and that is not achieved well through digital communication.
All of this sounds like common sense, but you’ll be surprised how in the heat of conversations things can spiral in the wrong direction. Keep this in mind and keep the morale of the project as high as possible and make sure you stay productive and successful.
I received this from our trademark & patent lawyer Rich Roberts at www.robertspatent.com
Interesting to see what’s new in the world of trademark and patent law:
This morning the United States Supreme Court issued its much awaited decision in the business-method-patent case of Bilski v. Kappos. The lower U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the rejection of the applicant’s patent application for a business method claims as not meeting its newly devised “machine-or-transformation test” of patent eligibility. Under this test a claim to a process qualifies to be considered for patenting only if it either (1) is implemented with a particular machine, that is, one specifically devised and adapted to carry out the process in a way that is not concededly conventional and is not trivial; or else (2) transforms an article from one thing or state to another. The Supreme Court rejected these tests and decided that although these tests may be a useful and important clue or investigative tool, it is not the sole test for deciding whether an invention is a patent-eligible “process” under 35 U.S.C. 101.
This case is important because the Court rejected the theory that business-methods are categorically outside of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C.101. The Court upheld the rejection of this particular applicant’s claims on the basis of its prior decisions of Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U. S. 63, 70 (1972), Parker v. Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 588, n. 9. Pp. 5–8, and Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U. S. 175, 182, holding that the claims do not present patentable processes, but merely attempt to patent abstract ideas. The full opinion is at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-964.pdf
If you ever need trademark & patent expertise, we highly recommend Rich, here’s his info:
Richard S. Roberts
Roberts & Roberts, L.L.P.
Attorneys At Law
P.O. Box 484
Princeton, New Jersey 08542-0484
Found this while posting the last post, 9 Technologies to help bring down the costs of our healthcare systems. I’ve put a couple the ones I thought were amazing below, but you can read the whole article here. Some are simple changes to current tech and some are complete revamps, but awesome all around. Funny thing, I bet you no one will complain that we’re putting a bunch of lab workers or doctors out of jobs with this tech. But when we try to implement technologies to make local and federal government more efficient and need less workers, everyone goes crazy about job security.
Didn’t mean to go off topic, by NJ is bankrupt but everytime they try to cut people out to save money, it turns into a huge protest and I’m tired to paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation….
“People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease might be able to scale back on their meds by instead using this $40 reusable instrument (also a PopSci Best of What’s New award winner) that sends vibrations into the lungs to break up mucus. Make sure to check out the video of the Lung Flute in action, starring Senior Associate Editor Bjorn Carey and His Mucus.”
“Americans with diabetes shell out some $132 billion a year for insulin, which usually comes from genetically engineered yeast or bacteria. But Canadian scientists can make it cheaper. They inserted the human insulin gene into the common safflower plant, which churns out the drug for a fraction of the cost. Just 25 square miles of the crop could make insulin for the entire world.”
We usually have to rapidly prototype website UI all the time. We’re asked all the time, what’s the best program to wireframe within. Yes, we use OmniGraffle, Adobe InDesign, as well as Microsoft Visio to properly document UI screens and flows, but that’s usually not where we start.
Working with programs are usually slow and cumbersome; not only that, but they force us to think within their own limited set of constructs.
We start with a pencil, eraser, and paper. It not only helps us to produce screens quickly, it helps us to push ourselves to create multiple variations of screens to fully explore different interaction models.
“But Pinaki, I can’t draw?!?!”, you say. After I give you a mocking laugh, I’ll tell you that anyone can draw. Go ahead, pick up a pencil and paper. Draw a line. Now, draw a rectangle. Next, draw a circle. How about a star? If the objects on your paper can be identified by someone else, then you can sketch UI and wireframes.
Geekchix.org‘s Ivana Jurcic posted a lovely collection of printable paper-based wireframe templates and sketch books. Perfect for printing and prototyping.
Thank you Ivana, for the great post and photo for our homepage.
This past week’s themes included all hands on deck, the art of proposal writing, and a Local Wisdom Halloween.
First, I wanted to start by congratulating members of the LW team, David Spira (Information Architect), Christine Robinson (Project Management), Pinaki Kathiari (Director of User Experience), and RJay Haluko (Sr. Web Designer), for the execution of a very large proposal. It was certainly a team effort and we got it done. Speaking of getting proposals done, there is definitely an art to writing proposals. No two proposals are the same. Our proposal process is as follows:
The finesse is always in the documentation. The final proposal should always speak to a customer’s unique business needs, the overall execution strategy, as well as the personality of the project.
Last week rounded off with one of our intranet Design Discovery meetings run by RJay. We believe having e v e r y o n e on a project team to discuss creative, helps drive our work as well as achieve consensus on the overall design direction. Engaging workshops with interactive creative Q&A makes for truly productive sessions.
Halloween was celebrated on Friday at our office, with some interesting, fun, and original costumes. Look out for pictures very soon!!!
Week 45 looks to be busy one. So expect some good commentary.
With that said, so long and till next week.
This weekly review has been brought to you by Derrick Larane, Director of Sales here at Local Wisdom.