RamsThoughts

June 22, 2018 12:38 am

Book Review: The Lean startup

Filed under: Agile,Business,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 12:38 am

http://a.co/2IE9BCO

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is one of the significant books I have read in the recent past. Great tips and examples to learn processes for a start up. You have the Ideas, start rolling them the product. This book can be your tag along guide as you go through the process.

My understanding before reading this book was , it was geared for those geeks who want to start a new company and explore into various options to making their ideas transforming into cool products. However, As I went through reading each chapter, I was able to recall my day to day projects at work and apply some of those concepts. A start up company OR an established company but coming up with new products and features , this book would help in visualizing and developing those cool features faster and obtain feedback along the way.

This book is structured into 3 sections – Vision, Steer and Accelerate. A key take away about adopting the projects into a Lean fashion, is the amount of learning you have while developing that cool product or feature. Validated the learning and identify the moment of flying out with colors, or Pivot and improve the course.

LOFA – Leap of Faith Assumption – is a key in taking risks and getting into the venture – either in-house or through external VC funding, Execution, and last not but not the list Innovative Accounting for the investment of all the resources (Time, Money, Ideas, and any other raw materials  like expertise, technology, etc.,)

This book will walk you through Learning opportunities via Experimentation, LOFA leading to execution, defining MVP (Minimum viable product) , marketing, being flexible on Pivoting / Perseverance. These should go with some sort of Feedback in the so-called Build-Measure-Learn pattern.

Later part of the book takes you  through batching process, the efficiency / Effective way of batching work size, with simple examples and case studies. This chapter however, I think, is somewhat debatable. I sense there are some overlapping thoughts, contradictory statements between the types of batches appropriate. But however, I agree, it is contextual and depends on the project is appropriate to go batch process, and if so, the size, feature set, and the product.

There are numerous examples all through the book that would help to learn from others’ experience. If not anything, I would recommend you read all those examples provided across the book. Examples from Groupon, Facebook, Toyota, and several other companies included in the book. Fascinating examples to learn from.

One key take-away for troubleshooting the process or incidents. I also learned this from my little one a few years ago, of asking Why on every response. “5-Whys” is a technique described here, coined by Toyota Production process to identify the core root cause. “5” may not be a silver bullet or a golden rule, but use the depth as appropriate to the context.

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April 3, 2018 2:26 pm

Book Review: When: Perfect timing for everything?

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I must admit, This is the very first book I read within 5 days. I just couldn’t keep the book41z0sxekubl-_sx329_bo1204203200_ down. A great book to read and refresh some of the forgotten thoughts and lessons. Yes, several of the tips and concepts explained in this book made me recall what my dad used to tell me in my childhood. What is fascinating to me is, the studies years after have revealed some of these concepts.  This book is insightful, factual, and surprising at some areas when your understanding might be opposite compared to the research data among the masses.

If you don’t know of Author Daniel Pink – I would recommend you watch this Video about DRIVE – What motivates individuals –  https://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc. I have also read his book “DRIVE” before.

With this background of the Author’s work I had, I enjoyed reading “WHEN” cover-to-cover. “Timing is Everything!” was what I thought. As Author repeats at the summary towards the end, that I realized  – “Everything happens is Timing!”  True, it is. What helped me read this book within 5 days even out of busy schedule was part of 2 things. (A) Set myself a goal to read within a week (B) An external factor, that I had to return this book back to the Library within 2 weeks. At times, borrowing books helps you keep that self-accountability and motivation to read instead of procrastinating for years. Again – “Timing” ! Now that I have read this book, I will add a copy for my home library.

This book is structured in 3 parts, in a way.  Beginnings, Mid points and Endings, Plus the Intro and summary on either end. I tried to implement the concept along the way around the areas of Beginnings, Midpoints and the Endings.

If you don’t have time to read the entire book, I would recommend to read at least the “Hacker’s Handbook” sections at the end of each chapter. They have good takeaways you wouldn’t want to miss.

If you are a research and analytical kind of person, you will enjoy seeing the comparisons and numbers of the culmination of umpteen number of surveys and analysis.  Some examples include – Average time that people wake up or/and sleep, average age people feel the peak and drop of their career, Times the schools must start, average age kids that like being early risers or the night owls, Time of the day that works best for Math and English tests at schools, the kind of students fair well depending on the time of the tests, and so on and so forth.

I felt some disconnects or at least I got distracted when I saw some mix hypothesis made at several areas in this book. Yes, those were the survey results, but at the same time some concepts were shared again as counter observations. Both the evidences were placed leaving readers to make a choice instead of book providing a recommended approach. In a way, I think it was probably a good intent to let people to figure out what works best for us given this new set of observations of 2 extremes. So for those analytical thinkers, it is a good exercise to connect the dots between the studies and get the gist of those.

Such survey results are gathered into these categories listed above – Beginnings, Midpoints and Endings. The School context blew me away to take me back into my school days, relate these into my Kids’ routine, what liked the best and worst and so on.

Have you heard of Mumbai Dabbawaala story ? It has been depicted to an extent highlighting the Leadership, flawless execution, Project management, and emotional touch points, Synchronization, Customer Service in the busy hours of Mumbai communities.  This service has been on for over 120 years. They deliver over 200,000 lunch boxes every morning and deliver them back to their respective households. They commute on Trains and Bicycles for this daily routine.  If you would like to take a quick glance of Mumbai Dabbawala story – see here: https://youtu.be/yjqZhJfKses

 

This TEDx talk gives some testimonials of this service. https://youtu.be/N25inoCea24

 

Overall, I immensely recommend reading this book “WHEN” for 2 reasons:

  1. Understand some basic concepts , forgotten concepts and refresh to regain your productivity with a better perspective.
  2. Share what you have learned with others for having the community (work place, team work, family life, etc) in synchronization of thought process.

Happy Reading,

June 3, 2016 9:25 pm

Engineering Quality vs UX Quality (Knowledge vs Understanding)

Quite an interesting concept about what and how our mind perceives learning into the muscle memory and the effort it takes to unlearn and re-adapt based on the newly learned information. The important thing to note is, it is doable. Adapting to change is what creates the engine going. In this video, the designer talks about the understanding and the tacit knowledge with an example of riding a bicycle.  The knowledge could have possibly come from the previous understanding. Just because we understood some concept doesn’t mean it gets into our DNA right away, it takes enough practice and re-emphasis to make it happen. The take away from this talk is – Understanding, Knowledge and Adapting to the change with the newly found information.

knowledge1

Looking at this video at first, I used part of my “fixed mindset” to conclude, why should we design bicycle differently. I later changed it to an “open mindset” and applied the thoughts to other areas. I would suggest you to watch this with an open mind and look for the implicit concept and areas it can be applied to.
(Picture : from the video)

 

https://youtu.be/MFzDaBzBlL0

On one of the products I worked few years ago, though we Engineering wanted to upgrade to a better UI, a better performance, on a better and improved technology – the users weren’t ready to accept. Given a mission critical revenue generating application, the business wasn’t ready to accept a new proposed changes. We met with business team to understand the rationale and realized – One of the key resistance points was, the users were so much used to the product, including the tab order (note: the tab order was incorrect at that time), and such a change (though corrective) would derail their productivity with unlearning and learning process. We negotiated differently and found alternate ways to upgrade eventually.

 

Looking around, I see several products that we use fall under this category.

  • Do you see similar examples around?
  • Are there any products that you use for yourself, and you wouldn’t appreciate if it was changed?  🙂

 

 

December 22, 2009 12:31 am

Please leave your shoes on rack…

Filed under: Children,People,Process Improvement — ramsblog @ 12:31 am
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I was at a local temple one evening recently. There is a fairly big room as soon as we enter in to leave our shoes; and a wash basin to wash our hands before we go upstairs to the main hall where the deities are located.

There are bunch of racks nailed to the walls of that shoe area so people can keep their shoes on those racks so the floor doesn’t look messy. and it is also nice if people abide by that and keep their footwear properly and would be easier for themselves to find their respective footwear. However, it is not often that we see people doing so. Most people just leave their footwear wherever they want and go away.

A little after I went in, I started hearing the voice of some kids saying “keep your shoes on rack” repeatedly from the corner where the footwear room was located. What I thought was some kids were actually cleaning up there while saying this. Why not! they probably wanted to teach lessons to the adults. One of the ways to make culprits guilty is by helping them the right way. Well, I ignored for that moment and went away. I came back 30mins later and still heard the voice, went in to pick up my shoes, and realized there was a boom box playing a CD.

It is a nice move – a great idea, whoever have thought about it. Looks like they have recorded several kids saying the phrase “please leave your shoes on rack” repeatedly and that’s being played at the entrance/exit of that room. Helps in multiple ways

1. Parents who come with little ones, have to abide by that, ‘coz i am sure those parents want their kids to learn right way, at least, if not themselves
2. people without kids would notice kids doing it the right way and they ought to be feeling guilty if they didn’t do so.
3. kids who come in there, obviously hear those words and they start picking up other shoes lying on floor and stack them up on the racks.

but overall, certainly eye opener for adults! I liked that idea – a brilliant idea.

April 21, 2009 9:13 pm

Easier to Say than Done…

Filed under: Attitude,Personal Development,Process Improvement — ramsblog @ 9:13 pm

…. a lot of times, we come across people who often talk and start giving advice. Well, it also depends on the recipients and their attitude on how well they take it. but at times, the recipients might hear them but not necessarily listen although they pretend to be.

Here is the situation:
     You have a challenge that you are working on. Apparently you come across someone, not necessarily have an experience around that, but the moment you share about your issue, he/she starts asking several questions and gives the numbers as though you feel it works. Sure, on a bird’s view things are always easy. Apparently the challenge is, not all people who starts telling you things would perform the same when it comes to a situation to themselves.

How would you react or respond in the situations when you come across such people? Would you pretend to be listening? would you gracefully defy it and justify your stand on how the problem should be solved? what else?

February 22, 2009 1:01 am

Reporting Reporting Reporting…

Filed under: Communication,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 1:01 am

How much time do you spend on your status report at what-ever-job-or-business-you-work-with?

Per day, per week, per fortnight, per month, per year?

What is the value add? Who is the audience? How often is it reviewed? How many of those reports are looked back?

When started few years ago, I was a report junkie where I wanted provide the information nitty-gritty activities that goes on. Try to gather some numbers from the tools, formulate the charts, make them colorful, provide the risks and potential mitigation plan, etc etc…

I know the reporting makes it more meaningful provided it has the relevant information, at the same time, we also need to think about the cost involved.

When you look at the Project Management Hierarchy there are several cross functional teams, several levels of management, several applications, and several people of course, and few leads. There are reporting requirement involved at each every level in some way or the other. If you each one is preparing a report towards the same project, where the common goal of every individual, every element involved in the project is towards the project deliverable (you may add any number of factors to it viz., quality, complete functionality, etc etc etc), then think about the amount of time each individual puts in to create that report. Well, most times the specification of what the report should convey might be lacking in many situations, when you do have the expected format or certain expectations, every individual need to adhere to it.

Let’s assume there are about 20 people involved in a project and his/her own skilled areas. each one spending about 30minutes for “so-called-report” –> that makes it to 600minutes of your project time went into reporting and this repeats every week – even if it is 20minutes per individual – translates it to 400 minutes – and that’s about 8 to 10 hours of work.

In my mind, we need to come up with Tools to do such mundane repetitive tasks like gathering the numbers, consolidating the issues etc. Let our human brains do creative work.

Agreed, specially talking about road blocks and attempting towards removing them from the project individuals is what the project management should be looking at. and that would help keep the project healthy, but it is interesting to see the amount of time most projects put into merely status reporting.

borrowing this book from the library to understand what the author has to say about project risk management.

What is your opinion about reporting and how much time do you think would a project spend on such activity?

February 17, 2009 12:39 am

Knowledge Management

Filed under: Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 12:39 am

I was at the SEASPIN presentation few days ago. The presenter Jeff Smith talked about  Knowledge Management and how it influences/impacts the organization. It was a great forum that we mostly discussed a lot on pros and cons. Listening to the audience there, Knowledge (information) management is not only an issue at the team level or an organization level or a company level, it appears to be at the industry wide. talking about this, there are gazillion number of tools and processes in place. There are practices and processes that get implemented and gradually disappears within a year or two.

certain teams try to consolidate all the documents in a single so-called “repository” and despite, documents are scattered everywhere. Have you been in a situation where you look for documents and find and search for them and still not able to locate those documents after hours and hours of search and finally create another copy. Well, at some point you would find duplicate documents around and not being able to make out the latest one. What would you do, would you merge them? would you review both the documents or would you judge on the latest modified date and keep the recent one? How do you even know that’s the legitimate valid document?

This kind of situation, in a way, turns into searching for the required information. Jeff puts this as “Search is a backup plan for a lack of Plan” –> I so agree with him, based on what we understand from the scenarios I described above. We end of searching for information when we fail finding at the known repositories and that boils down to lack of better planning in Information Architecture or Information Management.

It was a great insight overall. Thank you, Jeff.

December 12, 2008 6:17 pm

SEI Webinar: Process Improvement on Dec 18

Filed under: Events,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 6:17 pm

SEIs webinar titled “Process Improvement at the Edges” scheduled on Dec 18, 2008.

For free registration see here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/941082132

Title: SEI Webinar Series: Process Improvement at the Edges

Date: Thursday, December 18, 2008

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

 

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August 6, 2008 10:10 pm

Healthcare issues…

I came across this article on wall street journal titled “Much of Asia fails in healthcare“.

In a conversation with my parents when they said “many brides in India look for grooms living in the United States”. My response was, is it still the case, I don’t think it is the case any longer as I have heard about the greater economy, better supporting government (?), Privatization of lots of initiatives that are providing better employment opportunities, better cash flow, etc etc. anyways, that is a different context.

But as mentioned in this article, no matter how great the economy is, no matter how infrastructure is being built or designed, we still have the basic fundamental issue of taking care of the children at rural areas and some part of urban areas as well. The sad part is “Healthcare facilities in India and the Asia-Pacific region was also hampered by corruption“. What I have also noticed with all those infrastructure improvements, facilities, multistoried buildings, malls, etc etc was the fact from this article “underlining a widening gap between rich and poor across“. The standard and cost of living has risen so much in the past decade – but we still have the poor reaching towards poorer and the gap is so much. Poor still playing the catch up game in this part of economy.

What do you think is the solution? or is there a solution at all?

June 18, 2008 12:18 am

Deployment vs Installation

I was talking to somebody about different software defect types and came a topic about Installation and Deployment as 2 items. Now brainstorm a little bit. What exactly is an Installation and what exactly is a Deployment? Well, according to the work flow snap shot according to the software development life cycle (SDLC), –> Design a solution, Build a solution, Compile what was developed and create an installer and now release the bits for testing or let’s assume it was tested and being released to production – either way, now comes a point of Deployment.

Well there are different interpretations:

a. both Installation and deployment are the same
b. no, installation is an action and deployment is a process
c. okay, now we find a defect as part of this activity of setting up the environment (where we apply the bits on a server), so where does this defect categorized as? I understand there are different constraints and answer could be “it depends” on “approach, steps, machine configuration/readiness, etc etc

The point is, there are different terminology, and each individual has his/her own interpretation or understanding of what the term is, although they refer to the same/similar action.

according to dictionary.com, though it gives multiple definitions, i picked the ones appropriate for software deployment.
Installation: A system of machinery or other apparatus set up for use
Deployment: To put into use or action

What is your interpretation between the terms Installation and Deployment, when you are ready to log defects or create your testing story as part of the system setup.

<update 6/18> cross posted in TestRepublic discussion forum [link]: http://www.testrepublic.com/forum/topic/show?id=1178155%3ATopic%3A26272 

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