“It’s not about money. It’s about the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.”
January is “New Years Resolution Month” for me. I plan what I’ll improve in the rest of the year and how I’ll do it. Roughly 88% of people who make New Years Resolutions fail [Lehrer 2009]. Twenty years ago, software projects had extremely high failure rates like this. The software industry started adopting “agile” management practices, bringing project failure rates down to less than 50%.
Many decades ago, my small-world assumptions were incredibly optimistic: I was smart, resourceful and helpful, and the world needed me, therefore capitalists would seek me out and pay me well. I discovered they weren’t looking very hard for me: I had to find them. I longed for experts in my own social group—i.e., gay software entrepreneurs—who could advise me, and found few. I even wrote to venture capitalist colleagues asking if they knew any gay VCs: nope. I remember thinking I couldn’t talk football and I didn’t play golf, therefore I would find few commonalities with straight men. Though I now realize how prejudicial this assumption was, it turns out the main victim was likely me. Continue reading
A “Cult of Zero” is developing worldwide. Adherents drive the total emails in their inbox to zero, every day, with great results in improved productivity. I talk about how you can get your inbox to zero, and keep it there.
Unbelievers wonder why cultists obsess about their inboxes. Take a look at the church roster, and you might find a hint. Some are well-regarded executives, who somehow find time for impromptu meetings or a mid-day tennis game. Some are up-and-comers, picking their battles. Some are just calm folks doing a great job, unperturbed by late-breaking drama.
If you created New Year’s resolutions, in hungover remorse for your 2009 debauchery, it’s a good time to assess your rehabilitation. By examining last quarter’s progress, you can make early course corrections and get on track for a successful 2010.
Take a tip from the productivity experts and host your own personal retrospective. Here’s how:
- Pull out your resolutions and review. (Or at least try to remember what they were.)
- Try to reconstruct the hopes and frustrations you felt three months ago.
- Write this down: Revel in what went well in your quest for improvement.
- Regret what went badly.
- Reengage by picking one or two things you will do differently in Q2. Continue reading
My yearly retrospective mind map summarizes what went well and badly in 2009, and what I plan to do in 2010. Click the image to see the full view.
I plan to iterate in 2010, with monthly or shorter sprints, progressing each month to make usable progress on as many 2010 goals as possible.
One thing that deserves explanation: “software project assessor”. This is not a commonly used term. An example is Elliot Fishman, who analyzes startup companies to determine their intrinsic bottom-up value. Venture capitalists pay him for his analysis. Being a sophisticated software project assessor means you can look at a software project or startup company and determine its likely value in the future. There are obvious implications to this.
I hope those who know me will ask me how it’s going; it will help motivate me.
Have a great 2010!