Blog entries tagged with "productivity"

My notes on Peopleware

Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Earlier in the year I re-read Peopleware and I finally got around to comparing my notes with Hamish’s.

Here are my notes, in the form of quotes:

  • “Managers jeopardize product quality by setting unreachable deadlines. They don’t think about their action in such terms; they think rather that what they’re doing is throwing down and interesting challenge to their workers, something to help them strive for excellence.” – page 20
  • “Quality, far beyond that required by the end user, is a means to higher productivity.” – page 22
  • “Quality is free, but only to those who are willing to pay heavily for it.” – page 23
  • “The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.” – page 34
  • “People cannot work effectively if their workspace is too enclosed or too exposed. A good workspace strikes the balance. … You feel more comfortable in a workspace if there is a wall behind you. … There should be no blank wall closer than eight feet in front of you. … You should not be able to hear noises very different from the kind you make, from your workplace. Your workspace should be sufficiently enclosed to cut out noises which are a different kind from the ones you make. There is some evidence that one can concentrate on a task better if people around him are doing the same thing, not something else. … Workspaces should allow you to face in different directions – A Pattern Language” – page 85-85
  • “The business we’re in is more sociological than technological, more dependent on worker’s abilities to communicate with each other than their abilities to communicate with machines. So the hiring process needs to focus on at least some sociological and human communication traits. The best way we’ve discovered to do this is through the use of auditions for job candidates.” – page 103
  • “Of course, if your people aren’t smart enough to think their way through their work, the work will fail. No Methodology will help. Worse still, Methodologies can do grievous damage to efforts in which the people are fully competent.” – page 116
  • “The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment” – page 126
  • “… If you say the product absolutely has to be out the door by some arbitrary date, they will ask, “Why? Will the universe grind to a halt if we’re late? Will the company fold? Will the nation slide into the sea? Will Western Civilization break down?”" – page 138
  • “The fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional” – page 197
  • “If the key learning doesn’t happen at the top and it doesn’t happen at the bottom, then it has to occur somewhere in the middle. That meas the most natural learning center for most organizations is at the level of the much-maligned institution, middle management. This squares exactly with our own observation that successful learning organziations are always characterized by strong middle management.” – page 212
  • “The ultimate management sin is wasting people’s time. It sounds like this should be an easy sin to avoid, but it isn’t. You have some needs of your own as a manager, and these needs may run squarely against your intention to preserve and use wisely the time of the people working under you.” – page 215

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Peopleware re-read

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 at 9:02 pm

As planned, four years after first reading it, I have finished re-reading Peopleware.

I actually finished reading it last night, and tonight I went through it writing down my notes along with relevant quotes. Since Hamish also wants to read the book (for the first time) I am not going to say any more. Instead I will wait and compare my notes with his.

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Processing my Inbox

Sunday, November 4th, 2007 at 7:41 pm

A month ago I installed a Thunderbird extension to give me a simple feature that has made the processing of my Inbox easier.

Ever since I started using SpamAssassin on my incoming email I have had two SPAM folders one that procmail automatically moves messages identified as SPAM into, and another that I manually move SPAM messages that were not identified as such.

Every few months I then run the contents of the manual folder through sa-learn to train the bayesian classifier.

So why is this significant?

Ever since I started to use rss2email for reading RSS feeds I have been running through the messages in my Inbox at least once a day in order to process it to (nearly) empty in a (sort of) GTD manner. As the majority of the messages are from RSS feeds the my most common action is delete, via the toolbar button (I click on the article link to bring it up in a new tab in Firefox and then return to my Inbox).

My next most common action is to move the message to the Spam/Manual folder. Even though it isn’t very complicated, every so often I drag the message to the wrong folder in the list down the side of the window. This was an annoyance and I wished that there could be a button to move the message.

A month ago I found Buttons!, an extension for Thunderbird that allows you to add a number of additional buttons to the toolbar. One of these is Archive! which moves the current message to a predefined folder.

So I now have two buttons; the standard Delete and right next to it a button that moves the message to Spam/Manual. This covers almost all of the actions I perform to process my Inbox.

In hindsight this doesn’t seem like much. But an optimisation of a daily process can be worth a lot more than you think.

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Laws and Principles (some humourous) of Life

Thursday, October 20th, 2005 at 6:03 pm

Through my semi-regular random skim through things such as popular del.icio.us links I can across a posting on the Signal vs. Noise weblog about not breaking Parkinson’s Law. One of the comments to this referenced a page on the Canadian Society for Biomechanics site entitied Laws and Principles (some humourous) of Life.

There are two things I want to say about this:

Firstly I want to comment on how the social nature of the web (I don’t really like that name but it is appropriate in this context) can bring together interesting pieces of content. All without a search engine and knowing what I was looking for. I one sense I was letting the community direct my navigation…

My second comment is that a lot of these laws and principles ring true. In particular:

Logg’s rebuttal is proven true whenever a manager is under the expectations of Gray’s law…

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