Archive | June, 2010

Overseas news: quotas for female executives…

29 Jun featured an article in the Economy section on June 13, 2010 (excerpted here):

A Quota for Female Executives

“A full 40% of board members at major Norwegian companies are women—they have to be, by law. In 2002, the Norwegian parliament gave companies six years to comply with the new mandate. Spain has introduced a quota requiring that women comprise 40% of boards by 2015. Italy, France, and Belgium are considering similar bills….

Today, 15% of board members at top U.S. companies are women, compared with an average of 9.7% in the European Union and less than 5% in Asia.”

Given the success or lack thereof with affirmative action in the US, I cannot imagine any sort of quota being imposed here – ever.  In past business discussions, when the topic of “8A companies” (minority/veteran/woman owned-businesses earn a 5% government work set aside if they are an 8A company) arises, it’s not uncommon for men to admit that they’ve used the 8A route to gain advantage for their own companies by placing their wife in a leadership position with more than 51% of the privately held stocks.  I have never seen affirmative action programs or minority programs succeed in the way they were intended. Instead they seem to foster jealousy from excluded groups, who then try to exploit the “opportunities” for themselves.

I wonder what happens in Norway and other countries when the quota can’t be filled with qualified women (or perhaps they can?) Scandinavia ranks up there as being the most equal of all nations (maternity and paternity leaves exceed a year!) so it surprises me that these nations have to impose legislation to increase the women on their boards instead of it happening naturally.

I suspect that if they have to move a female into a board position solely on the basis of gender, it will likely backfire (unless a glut of qualified women blocked by the proverbial “glass ceiling” are readily available ).

There has to be a better way than for government to pass legislation to mandate corporate structure!

I don’t think there will be any quotas for female executives in the US in my lifetime!  According to workplace expert, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum:  “Companies should be free to make decisions on their own, and the marketplace will reward or punish them based on those decisions.”

I hope that companies choose to promote or demote based on merit and accomplishments and not one’s gender.  While it may be true, it seems that legislation should be overridden by sanity in business.  People who achieve deserve to be promoted – regardless of gender, ethnicity or culture!

What do you think?

Have a nice weekend!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

Inertia… a gremlin in our psyche?

25 Jun

The nGremlins the movieumber one cause of us getting stuck in a rut and being unable or unwilling to pursue our passion is inertia!

Inertia is what makes us gain weight one ounce at a time, get out of shape one day at a time, and move backwards (at least not forward) in life. I think inertia is a gremlin in our psyche that is used by our brains to keep us stuck in our old ways.  (Remember the movie Gremlins where a cute cuddly creature turns into an ugly ravenous beast?)  And like any negative being, this gremlin slowly erodes our life until change becomes an unscalable mountain! defines inertia:

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion… Aristotle (around 335 BC to 322 BC), stated that in the absence of an external motive power, all objects (on earth) would naturally come to rest in a state of no movement talks about science and Newton’s first law:


  1. Physics. The tendency of a body to resist acceleration; the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.
  2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change: the inertia of an entrenched bureaucracy.

Do you ever feel caught in a state of inertia?  I think it is humanity’s natural state and it becomes the perfect excuse for inaction.

I believe that inertia is the number #1 plague on our society (and our ego uses it to keep us stuck)!

Take a glance at the self-help or business development section in your local bookstore – it’s huge.  And every book on the shelf talks about action, plans, making changes, and it’s all simply words on the page until you overcome the inertia in your own life.

Here’s where I see inertia in my life:

  • I know that I need to sell my house because it is so large there are rooms I never go into. But… (here’s the inertia part) it means cleaning out 3 stories of accumulated “stuff” including a garage of stuff left by the ex and grown children; repairing door jams scratched by dogs from years past; putting the house up for sale in a depressed market; finding a new place to live; accepting that I have to start over without equity; packing up remaining things; etc. — Inertia provides excuses that keep me stuck!
  • I deserve to increase my income tenfold!  My income is stuck because other people control my time. This is the inertia gremlin providing me with a mountain of handy excuses.  I need to counteract by marketing myself so that I can demand up front deposits from the companies I work for and impose penalties when they cancel bookings for project management courses on a moments notice. My gremlin argues that I don’t have the marketing skills to do this (help!);
  • It is hard to trust strangers when you’ve been burned. Do you ever feel like you walk around with a big “Take advantage of me” sticker on your back?  It can be hard to trust contractors, friends of friends (who purport to do good work) and others to do repairs or renovations because of unethical people we meet for air conditioning, pool service, home repairs, etc.  For me, I realize now that this is what my “inertia gremlin” uses to keeping me from taking a chance on a new contractor.
  • I need to get out more and find new activities. If you’re like me and work alone, live alone, my kids are grown, my family are states away, am happily single, and you don’t have a plentiful source of new friends at school or elsewhere, your inertia gremlin can wreak havoc on your psyche.  While I volunteer at many charity events in my area to get out and meet people, my gremlin tries to convince me that it’s all for naught and I’ll end up alone in the end anyways.  It takes action to get out of this potential rut!

Goal setting is one way of addressing your own inertia gremlin, but unless we take action (even baby steps) the gremlin wins.

What do you think?  Is inertia a part of your life?  Have you found ways to overcome your inertia gremlin?
Have a nice weekend – and go out and do something fun for yourself!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

If you could live anywhere…

24 Jun

WorldI’m thinking about moving but I haven’t decided where… yet.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Here’s some of my preliminary wants:

  • Urban area;
  • Lively and active downtown area;
  • Ample cultural events and outdoor activities;
  • Good mass transit (subway and/or good bus system);
  • Culturally diverse (people are well-traveled and knowledgeable about things outside the region);
  • Youthful (i.e., here in St. Petersburg, FL over 25% of our population is over 65);
  • Open minded residents (i.e., good variety of discussion topics at a given venue!);
  • Reasonable weather (i.e., Alaska would not be good for me);
  • Amenable to happy singles (i.e., not a couples community);
  • Optimistic industrial base (i.e., sorry, this rules out Detroit);
  • Friendly;
  • Serviced by major international airport.

Did I miss anything?

If you live in a great place, let me know why you think it’s the best place to live.  Is there anywhere that meets some of these criteria?

If you could live anywhere, where would YOU live?

Thanks in advance for your comments!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

NYC, the country…

22 Jun

NYCMy daughter lives in NYC (New York City) and loves it!

I never fully understood the allure of New York until this weekend, and I’m growing fonder of the place by the visit.  NYC is like no other place on earth and I think I know why.

Can you think of anyplace else where:

  • Everyone of every age seems to travel by subway or walk or bike?
  • There are so many unique fashion trends that no one stands out as different or strange?
  • Every neighborhood has its own flavor and celebrates traditions in the street (I experienced solstice (midsummer) today –Brooklyn style– with rock bands playing at corner restaurants on a Monday afternoon) – and world cup soccer is celebrated even if the U.S. is not playing a match?
  • People are universally accepted and (equally) ignored no matter what their race, creed or religion?
  • There are great restaurants and entertainment venues everywhere within walking distance or a short subway ride?
  • The city and boroughs stay open late (and you can get dinner past 10 pm!) – and are filled day and night?
  • Space is at a premium yet the hot summer heat doesn’t seem to create hostility?
  • Summer is celebrated nightly with rooftop parties and gatherings?

It’s so refreshing to find parks within the concrete jungle, European style street corner restaurants, delis and cafes spilling outside, people walking everywhere, cultural diversity being celebrated, and generally happy people all about.  As my daughter says, NYC is like its own country and she’s one of its proudest citizens.  Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll be one too!

Have a good week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

What’s the ideal number of friends? It all depends on “grade” and “quality”…

17 Jun

How many true friends do you have? How many friends does one really need to survive in today’s connected society?  Is a stranger you haven’t yet met, but who is a second degree link (someone who someone you know knows) truly a friend of a friend or just a connection? Is a friend on Facebook really a friend just because they are classified as such?

Has social media changed the meaning of “friendship”?  Do you accept “friend requests” from people you don’t know?  All of these are blog posts in their own right, but I’m curious about the number of friends one needs today to be “fashionable”.

There’s so many new questions about connections, friendship, acquaintances, friends of friends, friends of acquaintances, etc. that it can make your head spin…Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Ning, Xing, Twitter, MySpace, I could go on and on with the new social media networks and their importance in one’s personal or business life, but I believe the true value of friendship still lies in meeting someone in person.

Call me old, or call me old school, but I just don’t get the “friendship” value in having 4000+ names on your Facebook account who you’ve never met (and may never meet)!

So, for the moment, let’s go back to the traditional (20+ years ago becomes something I can call traditional) definition of a friend which I will colloquially define as:

FRIEND: someone you choose to have a reciprocal relationship with, who accepts you as you are and is there for you no matter what. Most commonly, friends have met each other in person on at least one occasion– enough to set up a line of rapport.

So, how many “friends” is ideal for your life?  I believe it’s all a matter of what quality and project management gurus call “Grade” and “Quality”.

As far as Grades of Friends, why not consider the egg system:

Grade A (close friend and confidante, you can call day or night, best friends forever)
Grade B (will trade babysitting, cares about your day, consoles and empathizes with your problems, celebrates the high points)
Grade C (swap stories, have play dates with your kids, coffee buddies)
Grade D (soccer mom, waves hello across the parking lot, may know little about you)

The grading of friends (and acquaintances) is seldom anything to do with the person involved but rather of the circumstances of your life.  It’s typical to have a lot of grade D friends when your children are young, and few grade A friends.

Then there’s the concept of quality. This is where the nature of the person involved comes into play:

High quality (genuine, true blue, honest, consistent, reliable, always looking for a win/win, regular contact, actions match their words);
Medium quality (reciprocal but makes sure that they’ll get something out of the contact, less reliable, somewhat fly by night, less committed, laissez faire, can go weeks without contact, words may or may not match actions);
Low quality (calls only when they need something, keeps a balance sheet of the friendship, takes without necessarily giving back, takes advantage when they can benefit, words and no action).

Given these categories, I believe that quality trumps grade when it comes to friendships!

We can survive with fewer high quality people of any grade and we can be happy.  Even a single Grade A high quality friend can suffice and exceed the value of many medium or low quality friends — of any grade!

I am grateful to have a variety of  friends in my life and a few who I’d count as high quality.  I hope this is the same for you!  No matter what your number, I hope you can include yourself as a guaranteed high quality, grade A person in your own life!

Happy Thursday.


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Does absence negate negative presence?

16 Jun

You might be puzzled by the title of this blog posting:  Does absence negate negative presence?  Permit me to explain and then I’d love to hear your perspective. (And yes, I agree that it’s a nerdy statement!)

In mathematics, the negation of a negative number (in other words a double negative) turns a number into a positive.

In chemistry, when you add an equal and opposite amount of protons to electrons you end up with a neutral (and in balance) state.

This led me to the question: what happens in life when a negative situation changes (or disappears) — does its absence change the state to a positive one?

In other words, does the absence of, say verbal abuse, negate the abuse in the first place?  Pretty heady stuff for a Wednesday don’t you think?

I was talking today to my friend Joanne, who was a longtime victim of verbal abuse so insidious that she never even realized it was happening.  After years of unhappiness that she deemed (and her partner willingly agreed) was due to her own inability to make herself happy, a counselor told her that she was the perfect muse for her narcissistic husband because she was co-dependent (and even addicted) to his verbal abuse.

I say insidious because a few weeks ago she read me a list of the symptoms from Patricia Adams’ “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” and she didn’t recognize any of them (even though she had mentioned them all individually over the last five years I’ve known her).  She was so immune to and so accustomed to her ex-husband’s treatment that she had completely lost her perspective. Now don’t get me wrong, she was not coerced into the marriage and everyone (including me) liked her ex-husband.

Today, Joanne confided that it’s not all honey and roses in her new life.  She says it’s a relief not to bear a constant barrage of negative comments – but in the same breath concedes that perhaps her former life wasn’t all that bad.  Huh?  Wasn’t all that bad?  Wake up Joanne!

Isn’t that a strange thing for her to say? By this time, I thought she’d be dancing in the streets about her new-found freedom!  I point out all the great things in her new life and her potential, yet somehow she doesn’t always share that joy.

So, I wonder, shouldn’t the absence of a force that contributed greatly to her unhappiness create happiness?  Or does such absence leave a void or a vacuum that must be filled by something equally positive? (Think of removing dirt from a hole and not filling it in.)

Any words of wisdom I can convey to her?  What would you say to Joanne the next time she isn’t celebrating?

Wishing you a prosperous and happy week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

Living Keywords – The Top Five

14 Jun

Google ranks websites by keywords, search engine optimization (SEO) maximizes keyword provisioning, we remember concepts by keywords… and business coaches rely on keywords to transfer knowledge and concepts.

As such, there’s a recurring theme to keyword selection: make them memorable. I’ve found five top keywords that reoccur no matter what book or guru or model I come across.

LighthouseThe top five keywords are (in no order):

1. Present: as in the current state.  Focus on today’s results, moods, plans, accomplishments because they are all we ever really have.  It is said that today is a present (a gift) which is a play on words but tells the true meaning.

2. Self: as in self-love and making sure that you take care of yourself first.  While many of us bear other roles in life (mother, father, son, daughter, caregiver, partner, friend, etc.) we can never truly give our best in these roles unless we truly love ourselves.  In some models this is called “Integrity” and means that we should always treat ourselves as we’d like others to treat us (a bit of a twist on the golden rule!)

3. Trust: as in trust that others carry their own baggage and do things based on their own perspective. Some advocates call this “never assume” or “don’t take things personally” because others only speak from their own point-of-view — never ours.  This also translates into trust ourselves and our intuition.

4. Flow: as in life is a continuous flow of energy – positive and negative – and is constantly changing form. Nothing that exists in this moment will be the same again. This means that we can celebrate the positive moments, and also know that negative ones can change for the better in the future.

5. Belief: as in the universe is plentiful beyond our belief.  The Law of Attraction, The Secret, religions, etc. all support that there is an ever-expanding capacity that the universe will support more love, energy, prosperity, finances, success, happiness, money, than we can even imagine.  Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and many other popular models hinge on the premise that what we envision we can achieve – without limits.

What are your living keywords?

Wishing you a successful and prosperous week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

Pool boys in Florida, no thanks!

9 Jun

Home maintenance is not one of my favorite chores and this includes taking care of an in ground pool! With pool service in Florida, I can tell you that the Hollywood ideas about pool boys who look like models and keep a pool sparkling clean is certainly far, far from the truth!

When my children were small, it was en vogue to have a pool and I have fond memories of splashes and screams of delight on hot summer days.  Since my kids are grown, the pool has become one of the extra extended “rooms” to my house that I simply don’t use.  And pool service has become my Achilles’ heel!  Allow me to explain.

Pool servicePool companies are abundant in Florida and I had one for years and was happy with it, but I discontinued it when a friend offered to do it for me (saving me $80/month). When my “friend” reneged, I hired a new company (why not try a small local business with a good rating?)

Since January, I’ve had it with pool boys and I’ve now got plenty of first hand experience with how not to run a business!

Here’s the scoop:

  • The first week of service, the company called to say I needed $150. in repairs to my pool cleaner and a new filter (the earlier company never mentioned this). I told them I couldn’t afford it right (it’s a common scam to insist on replacement parts when they aren’t needed)  and I’d wait a month.
  • The following week, the “shop” called to say that my pool cleaner was in their shop and would I authorize the repair? I was ticked at this but authorized the $30 repair charge.
  • The shop returned my vacuum head and left it at the side of my pool. When I called to find out how I was supposed to put the equipment back together, they told me to leave it alone – it was the job of the pool service.
  • In early February I woke up to a loud male voice in my backyard proclaiming “gosh, this will cost a lot of money, yes sir ree!” and was startled to find it was my “pool guy” wandering around my pool. This was 1 month after starting the service — I called the pool company to ask for a replacement (the guy scared me) and they agreed.
  • The following week my pool was green! I called again to ask what was happening with my pool. They sent a new guy over and soon the pool looked normal again.
  • A week later on returning from a business trip, the pool was like pea soup (green and opaque), so I called again. The new pool boy came over (not the Desperate Housewives variety!) and said that my filter was gone – perhaps I had mistakenly removed it and not put it back in. I told him that the pool was like my kitchen – it came with the house and I don’t go near the equipment! He swore that they wouldn’t have left it without a filter.  He recanted when he found out that the old pool boy took it into the shop – and it fell apart so “they would have to replace it”.
  • I was charged for a new pool filter ($120.) and called to complain about the service so far. The owner promised to remove the charge as a courtesy for the bad service to date.
  • A week later, I received an invoice with the filter charge added to the bill. I called again and the charge was removed.
  • When I was in Japan a week ago, a friend watched my house and wondered why my pool looked so murky and unfiltered. He removed the filter and found it covered in green algae and strapped together with rubber bands – he cleaned it for me and the pool started to turn clear.  “There is no way that is a new filter” he proclaimed when I told him the story to-date.  And “seriously, you have pool service?”
  • This week when the pool was again green, I called the owner yet again and told her about my friend watching my pool in my absence. She promised to send over a “supervisor” and would call my friend so that he could be there to meet the guy. No call, and four notes (I’m away teaching this week) left at my house – first saying that the supervisor took the old filter away again (duh!), second not to use the pool for 24 hours (they know I’m away!), the third one said that they dumped in a gallon of pool cleaner (about time!), and the fourth that they’d be back to check on it in a few days. My house sitter says the pool is starting to look normal.

What is going on with pool service in Florida? Is it a bad company despite good reviews and a real person owner?

I know that it’s impossible to get a pool boy who looks like a model, cleans like a storm, and pool service that rocks – but gosh, for $75 a month – I expect a clean and sparkling pool!  It’s not that pool boys don’t turn up for work because it’s fishing weather (that’s all year) but what’s the deal with a pool company that just can’t get it right MONTH AFTER MONTH???

Patience may be a virtue, but given multiple chances to make it right – why is this company even in business?  So much for giving a local company a chance!  I’m about done – what would YOU do?


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

The Gore’y details… I don’t need to know

7 Jun

While I profess to be no better than anyone else when it comes to paparazzi sightings (I admit to reading the headlines in the “rag mags” at the grocery checkout), it amazes me just how intrusive we, as a society, can be when it comes to the private lives of others.  Case in point this week – the pending divorce of Al and Tipper Gore.

Speaking from experience, this may be the absolutely best thing to happen to the Gores once they get past the grief associated with the death of their long-term marriage.

GoresIt is said that women marry men with the hope that they will change – and they don’t. Men marry women with the hope I that they won’t change – and they do!

I wish the Gores a happy rest of their lives, and I hope that the American public will leave them alone, but I suspect that we won’t!

While couplehood was once my norm (also for many years), it is refreshing to live a life of my design!  I can’t tell you how good it feels to bring home a new pair of black pumps and show them my pets without anticipating anything but a neutral reaction.  I now know that the unpredictability of my spouse’s remarks (ranging from “Another pair of black shoes?  You already have 2 pairs of black shoes…”  to “Okay… (whatever)” – was not how every married couple interacts. But, I do prefer a guaranteed neutral reaction to the randomness of my ex’s response.  In fairness to the general population, I know that many people profess to be (and probably are) happy in a couple relationship, while still more others are happily single. Whichever one you choose is completely up to you – and no one needs to justify their choice!

Happiness is not the destination, it is the journey, and whatever path you choose in life that makes you happy is the best possible path for you.

I applaud the Gores for taking a brave and courageous step despite public opinion that they stay together, and I wish them Godspeed in their separate lives.  As far as the details of their current breakup – I don’t want to know! Sure they were a public couple and will always be public people, but jeepers creepers, I hope they can transition without public scrutiny. What do you think?

Wishing you a happy and prosperous week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010

The Devil is in the Details…

2 Jun

Have you noticed lately the “plethora” of offers in your inbox for everything from free seminars (all self-professed experts in social media marketing) to consumer items – and they all start to look the same?

One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be absolutely conscious about the fine print and details – whether it’s a product, a service, a message, etc.  There’s so much competition (especially since the recession) with so many competing for meagre dollars that it seems that copycatting is the new norm.  Established brands compete with knockoffs of their own products and hawkers of all shapes and colors emerge on the scene daily. The internet is the great leveler where price shopping prevails and low quality products can allure even the most savvy shopper.

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:Authentic

Listings on eBay of products that “seem” to be authentic but are not. While a giveaway clue to a fraudulent listing can be a Hong Kong or China source and a way-too-low price, this is not always the case. Even U.S. based listings claim “Authentic” in the title and then often include small print at the bottom to tell the truth.  The fine print governs even when the listing title includes the word authentic so be aware that the item could be a knockoff nonetheless.

Craig’s list – the world’s largest yard sale. No refunds, no guarantees, no protection against unethical or fraudulent listings. It’s buyer beware even if the seller appears legitimate in person (I got ripped off by a security guard in uniform who sold me a blackberry that worked for – get this – one day!  How can you make a blackberry work perfectly for a single day and then it is non-functional?)

Packaged computer software that supposedly comes with particular features that were actually eliminated in their earlier version but they forgot to update the packaging and user manual.

Seemingly identical products offered in grocery or other retail ads (watch the fine print!) at differing prices. Sometimes the items look identical in the images but the small type text below the ad gives the exact specifications (size, weight, model number). It can be an event in mental gymnastics to figure out the differences between items!

“Free” seminars by self-appointed experts who don’t know what they are talking about. Yes, you get what you pay for (there’s no such thing as a free lunch!) – but often the time you invest to attend is ill-spent when you consider the value. While there is the rare person who offers truly free seminars as a way to get you to buy follow-on seminars, I’ve seen more than my share of offerings by people who attended last month’s expert seminar and now hang out their own shingle.

It’s true – the devil really is in the details!  In these times of hurry up, move ahead, go forward, don’t hesitate, it can be tempting to buy the first “looks good” bargain that comes along.

At the same time the proverb “Haste makes waste” couldn’t be more true!  Look out for the details – purchase wisely after reading the small and smaller print!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

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