I learnt about …

  • #MonkeyFirst

    I was listening to the audiobook for “Questions Are the Answer” by Hal Gregerson and it mentioned an approach used by the X lab at Alphabet nicknamed “MonkeyFirst”. It talks about the hypothetical problem of getting a monkey to recite passages of Shakespeare while sitting at the top of a 10 foot pedestal. There is a natural tendency to start working on the pedestal. It is something we know how to do and would show progress.

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  • Consensus 2019 - Conference Notes

    These are my notes from attending the Consensus 2019 conference in New York - there is a good chance that some of the notes I made are incorrect. State of Blockchain Alex Sunnarborg - Tetras Capital Bitmex - 10 billion volume in 24 hours Decentralized Finance (DeFi) has locked up >2% of ETH Blockchain developer demand up 33x Institutions views on digital assets 22% already cover them 40% open to including them in the next 5 years 47% have place in portfolios From Digital Gold to Contract Theory: The Economics of Mainstream Adoption Joshua Gans - Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, Creative Destruction Lab

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  • Lazy Programmers

    There is often a work culture that you should be busy all the time - if you are a programmer you should always be typing and producing code. Programming is a mental process and so requires thinking. Sometimes a little thought upfront saves a lot of pain and work down the line. The article below has a potentially controversial headline but sums this up really well. Being perceived as lazy as a programmer can actually be a good thing.

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  • Bottlenecks

    I really like Seth Godin’s blog - I could easily link to his posts every day - however occasionally a post really stands out for me. A recent post called Bottlenecks had an interesting observation that was a different way of thinking about them. I worked for a company a long time ago where the person running the company insisted on everything going through them - whether it was important decisions like strategy or minor stuff like approving the purchase of paper clips!

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  • Technical Debt Is Like Tetris

    This article uses a really neat analogy with Tetris for illustrating the impact of technical debt. Leaving gaps is akin to leaving technical debt in the code base and makes subsequent changes more difficult or slower to ship. A buried gap in Tetris represents technical debt. It also points out the fact that it is called debt and so has to be paid off at some point. Paying down technical debt keeps you competitive.

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  • Empowering Problem Solvers

    There is a natural reaction for people when faced with a problem to offer solutions. This can be especially true for managers. The article linked below highlights this and offers an alternative approach to the situation where an employee approaches their manager with a problem. A lot of managers will immediately jump into problem solving mode and propose one or more solutions to the problem. It proposes that the role of the manager is not to solve problems, as that is what the employee was effectively employed to do, but to help others solve problems.

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  • Leaving Well

    When someone leaves a company there are two sides to it. The first side is the way the employee behaves and handles themselves. I always aim to be professional and work hard until the moment I leave the office for the last time. I like to think that is one of the reasons my last four roles have involved word of mouth recommendations. I have seen some people, who were excellent up to that point, almost switch off once they have announced they are leaving.

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  • Real v Artificial Deadlines

    This excellent article looks at the different types of deadlines and the impact they have. The key point for me, and not something I had seen previously defined, is the distinction between real and artificial deadlines: Real deadlines have a direct (and often large) economic consequence. Not meeting the deadline will seriously jeopardize some future outcome. Artificial deadlines don’t work like that. There may be an economic impact, but the link between “hitting the date” and the economic impact will be a lot more subtle and abstract.

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  • Planning Workshop

    We have just completed a two week exercise with the whole development team to identify, design and estimate the next phase of work. It started as an organic process as we found the best way to do this and then developed into a repeatable process for the latter functionality. Before starting on the individual breakdowns we produced a list of things to consider for everything we were estimating. This mostly consisted of a list of functional requirements like logging, testing, documentation, etc.

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  • Naming Resources

    This one is just for future reference for me that I may find useful one day - a website full of resources that may be useful for naming things. Links Onym