Pro-Con-Fix list, a simple tool for visualising a trade-off

There is no better feeling than an well planned meeting ending on a high note. It is true, I find that an amazing feeling. The problem is that it happens very rarely. Most of my meetings are utterly frustrating, turning into endless discussions instead of constructive conversations. More often than not I walk away without knowing what was decided (if anything was decided at all) or how to proceed moving forward with a clear overview of actionable steps. Often those discussions go hand in hand with focusing on one negative aspect that we would have to deal with in our code, without even talking about all the positive implications this would have on our system.

The idea of having to do that for the rest of my career was pretty depressing. I just couldn’t accept that this was the way I would feel about meetings for the rest of my career. It is not possible to avoid all meetings and I don’t want to be frustrated every time I come out of one. So I went looking for a better way. It has been a long and slow process, with many experiments that did not go well, but I am starting to get the hang of it.

Are your lights on by Gause and Weinberg

I loved reading Gerald Weinberg’s Becoming a technical leader, so when trying to select a new book, I looked at his bibliography. I came across this very short (129 pages) book on problem solving. I picked it up because it was so small, but I did not expect much from it. I was wrong. It is a very funny, well written book with excellent advice for anyone dealing with solving problems regularly. It also has some very nice heuristics to ask yourself when you are talking to the business and trying to understand them!

Becoming a technical leader by Gerald Weinberg

It is time for my first book review of 2020!

A while back someone told me that they saw potential in me to take on a leadership function, but I needed to learn to communication in different styles. Although I appreciated the input, I had one problem: I don’t know any other communication style than my current one… Even worse, I don’t fully understand my current communication style and the impact it has on different people.

So, I started reading some different books on communication, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to keep reading it. Then I remembered a friend of mine talking about Becoming a technical leader and how great they thought the book was. I can only say one thing: they were right. Every chapter has a Question section with thoughtful questions so you can start looking into who you are and how you lead. Besides that, it offers some wonderful advice on how to be a better leader, including how you can communicate with other people.

Decisions Part I - What's a decision anyway?

The word decision pops up very often in our day to day conversations, and it is not that surprising. Decisions form a very central role in our lives: we can sum up someone’s life by telling the sequence of decisions they made throughout it. We judge ourselves and other people by the decisions that we make:

  • I can’t believe they are moving in together, that is just a nightmare waiting to happen…
  • You should ask your brother to go with when buying your car, he bought a really good one himself.

The sad thing is that most of us never really learn anything about making decisions.