Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat,
Not too big, not too small,
Just the size of Montreal.

Safety Tips:
  • Select highly visible costumes. Look for light, bright and reflective costumes that make trick-or-treaters easy to see. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat buckets and bags to increase visibility.
  • Make sure costumes fit well. Have trick-or-treaters try on, walk and play in costumes and shoes in advance to check fit. Make sure nothing comes loose or might cause the child to trip. Check that wigs or other accessories do not obstruct the child’s view.
  • Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the review, such as staying on the sidewalk, crossing the street at crosswalks, avoiding walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stopping at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in and out.
  • Plan trick-or-treating route and supervision in advance. Avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic and look for well-lit streets with sidewalks. Make arrangements for an adult or a responsible teen to accompany younger trick-or-treaters.
  • Get a flashlight with fresh batteries. A flashlight can help trick-or-treaters see and be seen, but it should never be directed at someone’s eyes including those of passing motorists.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leaders never stop learning

It is said that leaders never stop learning, a true leader is always looking to expand his horizons and bring new knowledge and skills to the table. People are more willing to follow a leader that has demonstrable proficiency in the area that they are leading their people in.

Here at Macadamian, the leadership group is very committed to continuous learning, it fits in with one of our values of "Constant Improvement"

Our Director of IT and Process Improvement is always handing out new books to the leadership group to read. It is quite hard to keep up on all the interesting reading being passed out and my own personal reading and training.

Book learning is one way to learn, and it is a useful way, but it is only one of many ways. Most people learn best by learning through experience. You can learn from a mentor, from working on a project, from taking a chance, or from failing.

People don't like to learn from failing because people don't like failing. It is stressful, you feel bad, and a generally annoyed at yourself for making the mistakes you made.

But, failing is OK, you learn from it. Organizations must create an atmosphere and culture where failing doesn't result with a firing or other punishment as long as the failure wasn't caused by negligence or malice.

An atmosphere of informed risk taking can lead to absolutely amazing results, and advances in technology and product design. At Macadamian we learned this long ago, if people were fired for a project that goes red, or worse yet, infrared, many of us at Macadamian would no longer be at Macadamian, and Macadamian would be bereft of some amazing and talented individuals.

Of course not all mistakes made result in such drastic results, sometimes the mistakes are from choosing the wrong technology, or making an assumption that doesn't pan out. We at Macadamian try to encourage our team to take informed risks in order to deliver high quality projects as quickly as possible. You can't always wait to get every single fact before acting.

I have often said, that the success of leader is not in the mistakes they don't make, but how they learn from the mistakes they do make.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

People are people, cash, hardware, and hog heads are resources

Props to Matt for sending this to me.

It was a brief consulting engagement. Version 3.0 was behind schedule. I was privy to this product planning meeting but still naive about corporate lingo. At first I thought "resources" meant money or time but it didn't compute.

Finally I realized that "resource" meant "human." Or, in this case, "software developer." Oh.

I hate it when managers and executives refer to the highly talented people on their teams as resources, it completely dehumanizes them. I have noticed managers making this mistake for years, and whenever I have heard it, it was like nails on a blackboard.

I remember way back back as a young(er?) officer of making the mistake of referring to members of my platoon staff as resources in a company meeting. The company commander laid a private smack down on me that I have never forgot.

It is really easy to switch into this PHB speak when talking about management and operations matters. But it is something all good leaders need to fight against. After all, many of these co-workers are also your friends, and you would never refer to your friends as resources would you?

Remember, despite deadlines, pressure to deliver, and customer demands, your team is comprised of people, people with friends, family, and commitments outside of work. Your computer can work 24/7 but not your team. Always thinking of your team as people will help you remember that they have a life outside of work. It is your job as their leader to promote a healthy work/life balance at all times.

At the end of the day, like Soylent Green, resources are people.