Tag Archives: Global Teams

Dear Daughter, Lessons from a female engineer (part 3)

29 Nov

This is a follow-up to two postings I did in January 2011: Dear Daughter, Lessons from a female engineer (part 1) and Dear Daughter, Lessons from a female engineer (part 2).  Now that it is almost the end of the year, I find myself with more thoughts, so I hope you will enjoy this latest installment.

SunsetDear Daughter,

You are so lovely and grown up, and it is a joy to watch you fulfill your hopes and dreams!  Godspeed to you and the wonderful life you have made.

As with my earlier posts, I hope that you do not mind the mom-isms below – take them or leave them as you will.  My purpose is simply to share with you some of my hard-learned lessons in the hopes that you might avoid some of my missteps.

If I repeat myself or seem to overemphasize certain points, please consider that my memory is not as sharp as it once was, and that it’s been several months since the last post to you. So here goes:

  • Follow your dreams!

When you set out on a path that leads to your dreams, do not be swayed by short-term failures, missteps or naysayers.  There will always be those who stand in your way of reaching your goals, (because they have their own ideas for you,) but they cannot live your life.  Friends, lovers, family, and others who do not support you may need to be set aside while you follow your dream. Some of these will pick up the pace and choose to support you – embrace them; others will continue to call out from behind – ignore them.  You need positive people in your life, not drama queens with their own agendas.

  • Do not stop doing something new out of fear

Fear of failure or of the unknown or fear of “what people will say” often are unfounded fears that stop us from doing exactly what we need to do (to move forward in our life).  We are raised in negativity (I apologize for continuing this cultural trend!) Did you know that by the time a child is two years old, on average he/she has heard the word “no” over 67,000 times?  This is not a good trend for later life! 

If you entertain thoughts about failure, balance them out with the joy of outstanding success — and you’ll find that the fear subsides.  And, if you hold a fear of “what people will say,” then you are not the daughter I know. You always try new things, challenge the boundaries, and succeed beyond all expectations.

This mom-ism is more intended for me!  I need to overcome my childhood where the constant reminder was “don’t do that – imagine what the neighbors will think!”  I now no longer care what my neighbors (or anyone else for that matter) think, and I relish in the independence and freedom that comes from this new insight.  I find that the best experiences in life come when you are doing what you want to do, not what others expect.

  • Be confident that you are exactly where you are meant to be

I love that you did not marry the first person you fell in love with, and that you are waiting until you find the right person (and are not settling for less!)  I also know that we do not choose who we fall in love with, but it is up to us to make sure that we take care of our own well-being first before we dive into a full relationship with such persons.  If someone you love wants to change “you” to suit their needs, know that this is not true love – it is controlled or conditional love.  The love that I wish for you is a love that is unconditional, pure, giving, and accepting, where you can keep up both yourself and your integrity.  The potential for co-dependence, unfortunately, came with your genes (I apologize!) and as with all hereditary traits, takes vigilance to keep at bay. You are a whole, complete, and perfect person just as you are, and your choice of a partner should complement the true you!

  • Forgiving does not mean forgetting

The saying that “forgiveness heals the forgiver” is absolutely true and I urge you to forgive as often as you can to stay emotionally sane in an insane world. People will disappoint, hurt, be cruel, and inflict pain on you – and often do so ignorantly or without caring about the impact on you.  The act of forgiveness allows you to move forward and realize another’s missteps, without necessarily allowing them back into the same place in your life.  Forgiveness means saying “I feel hurt by you, but I forgive you and can move on” but it does not mean “I will forget that you ever did this to me.”  Serial forgiveness of an habitual hurt is a different story — remember the adage “fool me once, shame on you… but fool me twice, shame on me” .  I believe this means that we should forgive an offender once (giving them the benefit of the doubt that it was an accidental occurrence), but a second time requires vigilance and a memory on our part.

Pride, arrogance, and vanity are not the same as self-esteem, yet they were interchangeable for many of our childhoods.  Self-esteem is confidence in oneself that comes from within, and cannot be gained from the approval of others.  If we encouraged our youth to have better self-esteem, we would see gang problems decrease (as people would no longer need gangs for approval) and bullying would drop dramatically if insecure people did not feel the need to prove themselves.

Safeguard your self-esteem and keep it fully charged – it is like the story of the cookie jar I’ve mentioned before. Keep your own cookie jar brimming with cookies (take care of your own needs first) before filling the cookie jars of others (giving your time and energy to others).  When you have high self-esteem, everyone benefits because you can give freely without resentment, and you can face disappointment because you understand that the reactions of others have nothing to do with you.

  • Relationships of all kinds depend on a symbiotic give and take

If you find yourself in a relationship (love, friendship, family) where you are giving or taking more than 50% over a long time, it’s time to re-evaluate whether the relationship is healthy for you.  When one person gives more than their share (more than half) and the other takes more, it is only a matter of time before resentment sets in. The giver will one day wake up to the fact that they have given too much and resent his or her own part in this over-giving and resent the other party (even if they love him or her) for over-taking.  Neither over-giving or over-taking is a healthy situation, and as a former over-giver I can attest that it takes a long time to get over the tendency to over-give and to forgive myself for doing so much over-giving in past relationships.  I want more happiness for you in your relationships!

  • Understand that it takes many people many more years to arrive at their “Truth”

We all find what we believe to be “the truth” of life almost as if it was a paragraph inscribed in a stone tablet. Our Truth embodies our values, our principles, our precepts, our boundaries, and sets a level above which we expect all others to adhere.  Unfortunately, your truth is strictly yours alone and just as no one else in the world has the same life experiences as you or I, no one else will have discovered this same truth. Some people never discover a truth at all and amble along in their life like a “pinball” in a pinball machine – being tousled by outsiders who tell them what he/she ought to feel or do according to the outsider’s truth.  Others come to realize their truth based on their life experiences or lack thereof and become entrenched in a belief system that negates all others who do not uphold their truth.  You can see evidence of this everywhere with extremism even in our society.  Value and hold dear the truths that you discover, and know that no one else will share the same truth or be as passionate as you are about it.  Respect and understanding go a long way in life, and really hold off the disappointment I often feel from others.

  • In closing…

I hope that you can glean one or two nuggets out of this mountain of words I wrote to you today.  Hindsight is 20/20 and I hope that your life moving forward can be a wondrous adventure filled with sights, sounds, and experiences that take your breath away.

In love and kindness,


p.s., It is a wonderful achievement to say that I love my life!  And it’s stellar with you and your brother in it giving me moments that take my breath away every day!

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 dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010

The Change Cocktail: 1 Part Focus plus 2 Parts Subconscious

17 Apr

Change, not chaos, is the natural state and more and more Americans are hiring coaches and executive trainers to take them to “the next level” in becoming all that they can be.  Self-improvement, change for the better, baby steps to a better life, etc. are all great things to do and when life hands us lemons, we know we can wince at the juice but it’s making lemonade that really changes lives.   Change can happen with behavior (overcoming bad habits), thought patterns (new ways of responding to life), or attitudes (and outlooks) — and despite the long term benefits, the ride is not always comfortable.

Change is like a Cocktail: 1 part focus plus 2 parts subconscious.

The 1st step once you’ve decided to change is to take action and focus on what behavior or attitude we want to change.  It typically takes 30 days of conscious, dedicated effort to change a habit (think smoking, exercise, negative thinking) and sometimes it takes several restarts before anything seems to happen. Once we feel like we’ve made progress and the change feels permanent, we often take it for granted — and lose sight of the fact that the change must become part of our psyche.  If change doesn’t take root in our heads it’s because we’ve only completed part of the cocktail and we need to mix in 2 parts subconscious.

Does this happen to you?  As soon as I feel that I’ve made some change in my life, something happens ( a thought, a reaction, an attitude) that jolts me into the reality that its not yet part of my psyche.  I find myself reacting in old ways when my guard is down. Any permanent change has to come with one part focus and two parts subconscious.  (Many coaching books today recommend acting the way you want to be until you truly feel it.  The conscious part is the acting, the unconscious part is having it take root in your subconscious until the new behavior becomes automatic.)

Let me illustrate with an example : One of the changes I’ve been making is to really  listen to my inner voice.  For far too long, I’d let others’ assertions overrule what my own inner voice would tell me. Years ago when my then spouse didn’t agree with my telling of an event (even where he wasn’t there), he was emphatic that my perception was wrong.  After years of this, it became easier to simply accept his version (and often find out later that I was right) than to fight. Eventually, I didn’t even hear my inner voice and I’d simply take his word as the reality (Hmmm… wasn’t this something like Stepford Wives.)

Robert Fludd's depiction of perception (1619).

Robert Fludd's depiction of perception (1619).

I’ve made conscious focused progress (that’s the 1st part) and think that the change is permanent until something happens like it did this week. A colleague from overseas asked me if I could book him a car for a stay he’s planning in the US. He sent me the itinerary and I sent him the reservation.  When he questioned why I booked the rental for two days longer than he would be in the US, my 1st response was the old way:  I apologized for “my error” even though I thought it was not.  When I checked the itinerary he sent, it was he who told me the wrong dates and had nothing to do with a wrong perception. It was then that I realized how ingrained was the old habit of acquiescing to another’s opinion over my own.  The 2 parts subconscious takes longer to change. Going forward, I need to watch for this automatic reaction and think before reacting.  I know now that I have a true voice that tells me the truth – as long as I listen to it.

I am learning that I am right at least 50% of the time (what a relief that it’s not the 5%   that my ex would attest) and that I have to affirm my ground in the face of adversity.  The change in my way of thinking brings great power and when the change takes root in my subconscious I know that I’ll again have the strength of my convictions.

At this halfway point in my life, I only need to look inward to know what is true in thinking and feeling.  After years of being told that I was crazy, this is a beautiful thing!

So bring on the change cocktail – and make mine 1 part focus and 2 parts subconscious — shaken (so to speak), but not stirred.  I wish successful changes on you – to become consciously and subconsciously the best that you can be.



Carol Dekkers, human being, software metrics and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Update on Kanban – It’s common sense for teams

9 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about trying Kanban techniques to everyday life in the hopes that I’d be more productive and achieve more output by focusing on less things at once.  I have to confess that this was an ambitious quest, one for which I was ill prepared.  I attended a Kanban for software development workshop and figured that it should (and probably could) be an easy task to apply the principles to my daily routine – kind of like thinking that a silver bullet found on the street would change my life.

It wasn’t so easy. I had my list of how I’d start using Kanban that week, and focused on the principles of flow and limiting WIP (work-in-progress).  As I continued to research Kanban (did I put the cart before the horse?), I discovered that I really needed to start with a routine or a standardized process.  And that’s not how I my days go today.

First of all, as an entrepreneur who works out of a home office with tons of email to digest every day and no set schedule (unless I am working at a client site in which case there is a structured routine), the discipline of Kanban was something that I hadn’t really examined.

Secondly, as a veteran multitasker (I’ve got 6 windows open now), it was going to take some major structural changes to adopt the Kanban principles. Yes, I realize that multi-tasking may impede maximum productivity but it works for me at this point with my business.

And, thirdly, when I am working on tasks alone (I am an independent consultant) there isn’t problem with bottlenecks like there is when working in a pipeline with teams and dependencies.  I could easily see how Kanban could simplify my workload when I had employees in my business, balanced with small children and a husband in the household (in other words a teaming environment).

The experiment, however short, was not without its merits.  I realized that by taking closer notes on what I was doing from day-to-day I started to prioritize the incoming tasks with more rigor, and focused on the important few things instead of the many trivial tasks.  I also realized that as a creative person, the multi-tasking works well for me.

I also appreciate that there are great benefits to be gained from Kanban principles when working in a team environment rife with changing priorities and moving targets, project budgets and customers awaiting software delivery.  If you are working in a team environment and finding bottlenecks and workflow challenges (nothing seems to get done on time, there’s too much rework, and too many interruptions) then I’d urge you to check out Kanban for your workplace. The costs of training are far outweighed by increased productivity and increased team morale (did you know the number one source of workplace conflict is lack of good process?)

Consult one of our own U.S. experts for Kanban training (I’d recommend my instructor and mentor David Anderson) – and let me know your results.  I’m willing to bet that your teams will performance better, your customer loyalty goes up, and your professionals are happier.

While my own personal encounters with Kanban are premature – it’s the nature of my days and my work that rendered the method not perfect for me – but in the process, I am surprised that more businesses, not-for-profits and general corporations are not yet using Kanban.  It’s the perfect, common-sense approach to simplifying your workflows and making work, well work.


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 dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

MOJO…What a great concept (and a new book)

1 Apr

I just finished listening to a free webinar hosted by the Business Chamber (free membership) and featuring Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the author of Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It
and I wanted to share it with you.

Dr. Goldsmith was down to earth and generously shared an hour of his time with attendees from around the world.

Here are my takeaway highlights:

1. MMOJO the bookOJO is defined as “that positive spirit toward what you are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside”. (For free resources visit www.MOJOthebook.com)

2. The changing nature of our life today (and this is a shared viewpoint worldwide) focuses on globalization, new technology, current economic crisis, work-life balance, and pressure.

3. What matters in life is: Health, Wealth, Relationships, Meaning and Happiness. Marshall’s travels confirm that these are a universal set of values.

4.  Dr. Goldsmith stated that his earlier works (including the best-selling What Got You Here Won’t Get You There) focused on interpersonal relationships with others, while MOJO focuses on your intrapersonal relationship with yourself.

Dekkers’ note: It is interesting hearing Dr. Goldsmith say this because he went on to explain how much of our MOJO seems to hinge on what others tell us about ourselves (in fact three of the four parts of MOJO: Identity, achievement, and reputation, are based on what others say) — that we often lose sight of what makes us US! I’m hoping to read about how to listen more to our internal MOJO “voice” and ignore the external “noise” of our own internal critic and our external environment.

5. Dr. Goldsmith shared two stories illustrating some novel ways of looking at life that I plan to try today:

“Leave it at the stream”

Two Buddhist monks were walking by a stream and came upon a beautifully dressed distressed maiden crying by the shore. When they asked her what was the matter, she confessed that she needed to cross the stream to get to a wedding but she was unable to do so with the silk gown she was wearing. The two monks looked at each other and the one apologized and kept walking, while the other scooped up the woman, waded into the stream and carried her to the other side. When he returned and caught up to his friend, the first monk chastised the second for touching a woman (which was forbidden). The first monk was so perturbed by this violation that he couldn’t sleep that night and woke the second monk to continue the scolding. The second monk responded saying “Yes, it is true that I carried the woman across the creek to the other side and I’m over it. But you, on the other hand carried the woman all the way back to the monastery where she might as well be with us still”. I took the moral of the story to be: Get over our obsession with the past – and leave it where it belongs – at the stream.

“The Empty Boat”

This is a story where a fisherman is out in the middle of a lake when he sees a boat being carried by the wind drifting quickly into his path. When the boat strikes his own, he yells out to the other boat only to find out that it is empty. The moral of the story is that getting upset at someone else for being who they rightfully are is as stupid as getting angry at the empty boat.


I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to reading the book, AND to discovering more about my own MOJO.  Of course, I’ll still be interested in knowing what you think about the whole MOJO concept too!

p.s., Growing up in Canada, we could buy candy called “MoJo’s” that were small wrapped nougat fruit cubes at 2 for 5 cents. We thought we had died and gone to candy heaven when we’d come home with a baggie full of MoJo’s!

Wishing you a happy weekend!


Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Truly Effective Workplaces…

31 Mar

Author Laura Liswood has just published a book titled The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work where she outlines what diversity means against the landscape of American corporations today.

While her posting today (Mar 31 2010) is found at the Women’s Leadership Exchange site: How to Create Truly Effective Workplaces for All, it quickly becomes obvious that her book covers a range of diversity issues including gender, ethnicity, belief systems, age, traditions, etc.

The Loudest Duck” looks like an insightful read on a topic that continues to gain importance as globalization increases.  I enjoy how Laura expresses herself in the posting above:  “What makes it hard for diverse companies to become, well, diverse? I saw a slogan that read “We hire for difference and fire because they are not the same.”

There are also references to related works:  “As Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book, Blink 16% of men in the United States are 6′ 2″ or taller but 57% of Fortune 500 male leaders are 6’2″ or taller.” Ms. Liswood’s book explores the rationale behind diversity initiatives juxtapositioned with the belief systems prevalent in American society and her views are likely to be featured in articles for months to come.  Should be interesting!

Have a good week!


Networking and Cultural Intelligence – Necessary or Fluff?

29 Nov

Madrid, SpainIt’s been said that “walking into a room full of strangers” is today’s #1 networking fear, outranking the fear of death and the fear of public speaking which were formerly number 2 and 1. (According to Susan RoAne, networking maven and author of several networking books including Secrets of Savvy Networking and How to Work a Room.)Compounding the situation is the reduction in in-person communication caused by the increased use of internet and e-mails. (It is sometimes amazing what and how people will craft their words and send missives out into cyberspace when they are not face to face with their recipient.) The overall result from less person-to-person discussion is increased shyness and a decrease in ability to network with strangers in a social setting.

What do you think?
Has the internet caused us to atrophy in our social, face-to-face communication skills? Has it made any difference in your own social networking to be able to craft a difficult response to someone using email rather than speaking directly to the person(s) involved? Has the increase in multiculturalism in the workplace had any effect on our ability to communicate and connect with one another?  Where can we find the answers to the most important multicultural team questions?

As the world becomes flatter and flatter through outsourcing, offshoring, and the increased migration of professionals between countries, how are our project teams dealing with the many diversities and soft skills that are critical to success? Is there an appreciation that networking and cultural intelligence skills can be gained through knowledge transfer and practice – or is this all considered fluff?

Would you be interested in attending a 2 day networking and cultural intelligence workshop for technical professionals in January 2009 in Tampa, FL? If so, please send me an email to dekkers@qualityplustech.com.

Have a good week!
Carol Dekkers

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 dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Read Carol Dekkers’ second blog (about Software Development) at http://caroldekkers.blogspot.com.

——Copyright 2008 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ————————————

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