Tag Archives: Software Development

20/20 et al… Looking back to look ahead

10 Jan

It’s the dawn of a new decade – time for reflection, renewal, hope and that that stuff.  Happy New Year readers!

I’ve never been much for new year’s resolutions (they never seem to stick for me) and instead I find myself doing a lot of reading, thinking and experimenting to find new directions and adventures.  And I have to say, slowly but surely I’m loving who I am and I’m taking a lot less crap from people than I used to.


For a minute, since it is customary to take a glance back, I’ll ponder the last 10 years.  What have I done since 2010 and what can I learn from the experiences?  I made a short list (maybe you can identify?)

–  I’m more optimistic and positive about life in general and much more easy going about things I can’t (or shouldn’t) worry about.  Maybe this comes with age, but when someone asks me about a how a presentation went, I answer positively knowing that I’ve done my best . I used to belabor the opinions of attendees (all over the map) while now I know that their opinions are based on their perceptions and expectations, with little to do with me as a person.

— I’ve stopped being “insane” according to Einstein (“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.) I stopped presenting at every conference that asked me (usually to speak for free or at my cost!) It took me long enough to learn this!  After 100+ presentations with little follow-on consulting or paid work, I quit doing QAI, ASQ, SSTC, PMI and other “technical  conferences” where I donated so much of my time and energy.  Today, I go to the conferences and present where I’m appreciated and where I want to see friends.

— I also learned that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and it can be folly to try to recreate past successes when the landscape changes. Here’s what happened:  I served as the president of an organization in 1998/99, and left for 15 years to give others a chance to be on the board.  In 2015, I returned as a board member for a 3 year term to find that many of those who joined the board in 2000 were still serving (no term limits.)  As the new/old person where most of the policies changed since my last term, there was little slack and I constantly (unknowingly) violated policies.  Next time someone asks me to rejoin a board, I’ll politely decline and save my heartbeats for a new endeavor.

— Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked to become more open and more tolerant and more accepting of people who are different from me.  Given that I see a lot of people around me doing the opposite, I’m feeling quite happy about my progress.  It is interesting to watch people fight for power and prestige and control, and be able to simply observe the drama (instead of participating.)

— I also discovered that there are more and more diverse and interesting things in the world – and, there are associated tribes of accepting and  professional groups that support these interests. If you’re struggling with people who are difficult or don’t share your values, look around and explore related industries – you might discover a community where you’ll thrive!  For me, meeting Dr Alistair Cockburn and his Heart of Agile community of incredible worldwide agile leaders, did this for me.  Additionally, finding ICEAA (International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association), Malaysian Software Testing Board, and other new groups has also been positive.  You don’t need to abandon old ones, just expand your network.  Instead of fighting against the grain and feel like you’re constantly getting splinters, find a new board (or group) and flow!  WIth 8+ billion people in the world, there’s a tribe of people with values and principles that are JUST LIKE YOU!

For 2020 and beyond, I’m committed to allowing myself more curiosity, expanding my writing and training (software measurement and leadership) and doing more cultural exploration (travel.) And, I’m deciding whether to continue or abandon this blog (does anyone actually care if I write ???)  At this point in life, I realize our time is too limited to take on the drama of detractors – and there’s so many wondrous people I have yet to meet (maybe you!)

As a freelance consultant, I’m also learning to ride the waves of feast or famine (after 20 years of being independent you’d think I’d realize that income is completely unpredictable) and… relax.

I trust that work will always come in (it’s never anticipated) and I’ll always be comfortable, albeit maybe not wealthy in finances.  I’m committed to delivering great value in consulting, training and speaking – and attendees always credit great knowledge transfer from my courses.  I don’t often ask for work, but I’m learning that I need to “toot my own horn” at least as well as I promote others.  Having said that, please consider hiring me as a speaker or measurement or leadership consultant for your IT or business professionals.  I’m a PMP, P.Eng., CSM, CFPS (Fellow) and well-versed in agile software development and project management.  (And I dabble in craft beverages and the hospitality industry speaking!)

Life is positive, inspiring and dare I say always an adventure.  What’s on your agenda for the next decade?

To your health and success!


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 ———————

Got business?

6 Apr

As a project manager / published author / international standards expert / speaker /consultant, I’ve spoken to audiences in over 25 countries.  When the economy and business were booming, life was easy and most of the professionals and people I met were upbeat and optimistic about their industries and life in general.

Unremarkably things are different these days:  businesses are closing, people are losing their homes, and relationships are strained.  Lately, I’ve been using my down time to brush up on the latest social media, blogging, project management advancements, and business development in general.  During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the flood of emails celebrating the recession’s end (mostly from overseas) from colleagues looking to do software development and related business with me.

My question to you is:  got business?

In reality (i.e., real $$$) – has your business or job or industry seen such an upswing in cashflow, contracts, or activity lately? Or is it the feigned promise of an end to the recession that people are using (along the lines of the Secret: what you think becomes your reality) as optimistic thinking to “wish us” out of the recession?

Have you seen new business coming in?  I know that a lot of people are heavily invested in the “social media” sensation (Twitter, Facebook, linked in, plaxo, etc.) that is sweeping the nation – did you know that if Facebook was a country it would now be the third largest country in the world (with more people than the U.S.?) – is this where our new economy is going?

Got business?

Wishing you a productive and profitable week!

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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 ———————

Expand your horizons, enrich your life

19 Mar

For years I’ve encouraged technical conference attendees (some of you might consider these to be “nerd” conferences) to read what their customers are reading – I called it reading outside the box – to gain an understanding of what is relevant in other industries. And I’ve always adhered to that as much as possible by reading Fast Company, Travel and Leisure, Time, Financial Times, etc.  It always expands my horizons through continuous learning.  I continue to find new opportunities to apply this wisdom in my life!  Rather than simply reading about other industries, I’ve started to take part by volunteering and helping out with local community events for the City of Clearwater (sporting and cultural events), local charity events, and one of my favorites: Film Festivals.

GIFFThis weekend (Mar 18-21, 2010) is the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) in Tampa and tonight’s opening event was a celebratory night of filmmakers, sponsors, students, fans, and industry notables. Not only was the event fun, it was a learning experience to network with non-software industry people who are passionate about their profession.  If you’re in Tampa or the vicinity this weekend, take in a film or two and join the festivities – if you’re a software professional I can tell you that it’s such fun to venture out from our regular environment.  Expand your horizons beyond the “software industry” and you’ll be surprised at how much it enriches your (work and personal) life!

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


Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

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

Computer Engineer Barbie – you go girl!

11 Mar

Mashable.com published an article this week titled: Why Computer Engineer Barbie Is Good for Women in Tech  Computer Engineer Barbie

What do you think?

This article brought to mind an experience I had after I finishing a great presentation at a leading Software Technology conference a couple of years ago. A male attendee approached me to tell me how much value he had taken from the content and he admired my presentation style. “You remind me of that female lawyer in Legally Blonde” he remarked. I was stunned (which was not the reaction he anticipated) and he immediately continued with “That’s a compliment you know – I mean you remind me of her because you are a strong, professional, confident woman!” I took the compliment graciously and realized that my professional dress and demeanor is something in which I take pride – and fashion prowess doesn’t take away anything from being an intelligent female engineer!

I assert that the introduction of any fashion-conscious, popular doll (even the fantasy-proportioned Barbie!) which conveys the possibility of a career in engineering or computer science to impressionable girls – is a good thing. In fact, the more positive role models presented as an alternative to the plethora of fictional Snow Whites, Sleeping Beauties, Cinderellas or other fairy princesses, the better! Maybe we can even anticipate “Speaker of the House” Barbie, “Nobel Peace Prize” Barbie, “Research” Barbie, and “Major CEO” Barbie in the future…

Meanwhile, I’m supportive of the Computer Engineer Barbie and her power.  “You Go Girl!”


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.


Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

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

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