Vegas Baby

In all my trips to the States I’ve never made it to Nevada, let alone Las Vegas. I’m off tomorrow for a few days staying in Las Vegas before I had to a work even, and I’m very excited about it since I’ve never been. I’m not a big gambler and I’m sure the commercialisation of everything is going to get to me after a while but I’ll enjoy the food opportunities at least. After that I’ll be heading to this year’s Retrospective Gathering in Phoenix which, although a work event, will be a great opportunity to meet with some of the best in the industry in this particular field.

Embracing Change

Wu WeiI had my room packed up, my bills redirected, my flight booked, had someone almost moving into my flat and was already trying to get through the round of (short term) farewells, but contrary to my recent post, it looks like I’m staying in London for a bit longer. Earlier today I got the ominous phone call telling me that my current opportunity to be a trainer in India will not be available as planned for the start of next year.

To say I’m disappointed is quite understated but at least I will no longer be as anxious as I have been this last week building up to Christmas and I know an opportunity will open up sometime in the future. Better yet I’m glad that it’s been easy enough to cancel the cancellation request on my ISP (they rock!) and I still get to go on my skiing trip already booked and paid for next year. I apologise to all the people who I sincerely told that I was leaving London, and I thank all of you who contacted me to wish me the best.

The picture above are the characters for the Toaist principle, Wu-Wei, and I find relevant in dealing with the recent news

How Tidy Is Your House?

Messy DeskI really enjoyed the entry that Rachel wrote giving “Refactoring” a normal name that ordinary people could understand. I like her synonymous term, “Tidying Up”, because it’s a great metaphor for understanding how important it is to any project in the long term.

There are obvious immediate side effects to tidying anything up. Things are easier to find, easier to move about and much easier to change. People who inherit or work in this “tidied up space” can do everything at amazing speeds. It also means that things can get messy quick. Fast forward three weeks and with all the changes, suddenly the “tided up space” no longer looks very tidy. Clutter begins to build up in piles, you see people duplicating effort, and then you need to start moving things around to even begin finding anything important. The clutter is slowing you down.

Tidy DeskIt’s important to keep on top of “tidying up” because it maintains your ability to stay fast. It also means that people coming along after you can work almost as fast as you (it still takes them time to adjust to finding where things are and where they should go). More importantly, those people following you need to understand how important it is to keep “tidying up”.

Thanks to lildude for the ‘Messy Desk’ picture and chaosbit for the ‘Tidy Desk’ one (both from flickr).

Moving Out and Moving On!

The biggest news I have this week is that I’m going to be living in India for about 6 months starting from January. I’ll be taking on a new role with other instructors running training and induction classes for people that join Thoughtworks. I’m really looking forward to the experience and I have a lot of support from my work colleagues and sponsor. I hope the people I will be working with will be able to capitalise on all my experiences I’ve had working on the many projects I’ve been on, and I think I will be able to refine a lot of the techniques and approaches I use when coaching teams and pair programming with people. I will also get a huge kick of working with people that are genuinely interested in learning and sharing and like most projects I’ve been on they’ll no doubt be plenty of fun along the way.

It’s a big change for me once again after moving to the UK, but I do plan on returning to the UK after six months and going through the paces again to find another place to live in London. It’s an exciting time and though there’s plenty of stuff to fit into the week before Christmas, it’s going to be completely worth it.

Trust, Honesty and Sometimes Saying No

I find that the people that set themselves up for trouble are the people that want to please everyone. I want to please everyone, but I’m also realistic in that I want to tell people the real picture and not some fictional world where nothing goes wrong. Some people like to paint this idealistic world – those people are also living in a dream world. In the real world people make mistakes, things aren’t perfect and you can’t promise everything will be fine. The only thing you can do is be honest, learn from your mistakes quickly and try to stop it from happening again.

I prefer being honest and telling people exactly what is going on, instead of pretending everything is going fine, because at some point things won’t and by telling people things will go smoothly you’ve effectively lied to people. I personally want to do right by the customer/client, and sometimes that means saying that it’s going to take some time to develop/test/deploy something. It means sticking by your guns, and being completely honest that things do take time in proper software development.

I really like this approach and I find it effective. Customers are glad to hear both good news and bad news from me, because they know that I have nothing to hide. They know that they will always be able to help make decisions and do right by the team.