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…

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