1.01.2005

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» TIP: Borrow strength from successful projects
» TIP: When you're not sure if the trader is criticizing or blaming
» RANT: If your boss is reluctant to delegate
» RANT: Beyond escalator
» TIP: If your project fails to meet expections
» TIP: Stress is what happens when you don't focus
» TIP: Get happy - it could make you successful
» TIP: Prepare for failures, but first...
» TIP: Next time you feel the urge to bash your boss coming on
» TIP: When you are losing the game to a dominant competitor

TIP: Borrow strength from successful projects

This is one of the reason standards like XML works, with no resistance from competing vendors

  • No excuse for resisting SGML: there had been 15 years of SGML, so there was a really good set of knowledge as to how markup and text should work, and
  • Resisting URLs would be suicidal: Web had been around for five years, so we knew how URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) worked, and
  • No excuse for resisting Unicode: Unicode had been around, so we knew how to do internationalization.

XML just took those solved problems, packaged them up neatly and got consensus on it all.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Working Smart

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TIP: When you're not sure if the trader is criticizing or blaming

There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism that's designed to improve work dynamics/productivity. But as it often plays out in reality, constructive criticism gives way to constant blaming/fault finding. And we all know blame rarely helps any situation - it only invites the individual to become defensive and counterattack.

Here are some warning signs if you are working with a trade who's also a fault finder

  • S/he seldom, if ever, lets a neglect slide by, regardless of how trivial. S/he obsesses over the flaws rather than the value.
    • If you had 10 things to do and did 8 of them to perfection, s/he would spend 90 percent of his/her time talking about the 2 things that did not get done.
  • When criticizing, s/he is fond of insupportable phrases (e.g "You should have known better," "You should have done what I wanted without me having to ask you.",) and judgmental terms (e.g "always", "never"). Not only is s/he disagreeing, but also implying that you have violated some standard.
  • S/he is obsessively interested in getting you to admit to wrongdoing rather than listening to what you have to say. S/he seems to take a pleasure in studying your negative inventory.
    • She is obsessively interested in who's wrong and why rather than what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • S/he tends to complain about how s/he isn't getting what s/he deserves - as if you were to blame. You feel like s/he shoots you down just to "level" with you and to build his own sense of self-worth.
  • You can't even remember when the last time s/he said something positive about your work.
    • If you ask her/him to make two lists of things - 1 positive & 1 negative - s/he would be able to come up with the negative list years sooner than the positive one.
    • Working with her/him reminids you of trying to fill a bottomless pit - no matter how hard you try, it's never enough.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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RANT: If your boss is reluctant to delegate

It's obvious to most people that if you want to be successful, you'll have to give up the notion that you can do everything yourself. But it's not as obvious how one would rather sit on time-sensitive tasks than delegate to subordinates at work, while s/he doesn't hesitate to delegate the tasks of mowing the lawn or washing the car at home.

I had an opportunity to explore this issue in a recent interview. When asked about his weakness, the candidate said something along the lines of "When I first started working I couldn't delegate and would end up micromanaging... over the years I've learned to develop my direct reports... and only if the schedules weren't being met would I take a more hands on approach..."

"So in general, why do you think managers are reluctant to delegate?"

Here are some points we came up with

  • "What happens if something goes wrong?"
    • "Easier to do it myself": no time/energy to teach the task and then follow up.
    • "I can do it better": the manager knows what needs to be done and believes he can do it better and faster.
  • "This is the only way I know to keep my nose to the grindstone"
    • "Why change now? it's what I've always done": the manager tries to stay in the comfort zone - cling to accomplishing even the smallest tasks himself until he gets drained, overwhelmed and lose focus.
    • "I'm not much of an idea-person": e.g. the manager is action-oriented and afraid that delegation might leave him with nothing to do. Incidentally, he also complains constantly about working long hours.
  • "What if the subordinate does too well?": many managers, especially rookie managers, often have a lack of self-confidence. Incidentally, he also tends to play down existing accomplishments of talented subordinates.
    • Delegation = smaller territory: fear for loss of authority + credits. He tends not to believe turf sharing.
  • "My boss got to where he is with minimal delegation": Lack of role models. aka the "monkey see, monkey do" syndrome.
    • "I believe in the principle of subsidiary": the principle of subsidiary stipulates that you can do everything except the following list, whereas the principle of delegation stipulates you cannot do anything except....
    • "What's in it for me?"

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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RANT: Beyond escalator

  • Climbing the corporate ladder is not quite like riding an escalator, more like climbing a mountain in the snow. Be prepared to slip occasionally. If you are prepared, and learn from the slip, you can recover, then continue safely onwards and upwards.
  • Working in an ineffective team is rather like walking up an escalator which is going down. Imagine that you're standing in the middle of an escalator, walking upwards. However the escalator itself is moving down at a greater rate than you are walking up it. The overall effect is that you will be propelled downwards, slower than the escalator is moving (because you are walking up), but downwards none the less.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: If your project fails to meet expections

It's most likely because it fails to get users to change their behavior, CIO research shows. Contrary to popular belief, the single biggest challenge is not the complexity of the technology. Not a lack of buy-in from top management. Not high cost. Not the failure to create shareholder value. It's user adoption.

According to the research, when people do change their behavior, it's rarely because they are offered a logical analysis that shifts their thinking but because they are shown a compelling truth that influences their feelings. Emotions are what trigger action - impelling people to behave in the often radically different and difficult ways that substantial change demands.

What's your emotional IQ?

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Stress is what happens when you don't focus

via RiverValleyNewspapers -- You probably have heard it said that managers do things right and leaders do the right things. The first statement speaks to efficiency, and the latter refers to effectiveness. It is easy to be busy but hard to work on the right things.

You as a leader should focus on doing the right things - those things that matter most to the success of your department, organization and/or company. In short, to be effective you must drive the focus of the organization.... Keep your focus by constantly asking yourself, "What's Important Now (WIN)?"

In today's dynamic, technology-connected world, it's easy for us to lose track of what is most important to our business. We too often get caught up in the day-to-day minutia and distractions (e-mail, voicemail, cell phones, PDAs, etc.) that must be re-directed, re-focused and re-oriented continually...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Get happy - it could make you successful

If you are happy at work, you may be closer to success than you think. Happiness, rather than working hard, is the key to success, according to research.

Cheerful people are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves, which reinforces positive emotion and leads to success in work, good relationships and strong health, say psychologists... Happy people are more likeable and more sociable. They are also better able to cope with stress and likely to be healthier and live longer...

If you can raise your spirits, the benefits can be manifold... But there is a caveat: your happiness boosters should not be dangerous, like driving fast, or counter-productive, like eating lots of chocolate...

Feeling good is cause, not effect, of achievement.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Prepare for failures, but first...

Prepare for success, Allan Wallace blogged.

There are huge bunches of people that will warn you to plan for problems. OK, not a bad idea.

But huge bunches of people never experience great success. They are so concerned about what might go wrong they never start.

Successful people plan. Successful people plan to succeed.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Next time you feel the urge to bash your boss coming on

Marshall Goldsmith shared many reasons why bashing the boss directly is never a good thing
  • You demean yourself. If you are so brilliant that you can consistently judge your boss, and your boss is so stupid that he merits endless hours of critique, why do you report to the idiot? Ultimately, when we discredit our boss, we discredit ourselves.
  • You come across as a hypocrite. When you bash your boss behind her back, the person you are talking to may think, "What do they say about me when I'm not around?"
  • You communicate a lack of courage. If the boss is behaving in a way that is bad for the company, why don't you challenge him? The answer must be that you are afraid.

One alternative is to focus on the situation and be a part of the solution.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: When you are losing the game to a dominant competitor

Try create your own playing field and change the rules by which you and your competitor play, Jonathan Dampier advised. It's a lot easier to win when the rules are in your favor, whether you're an entrepreneur or just doing your own incarnation of a WoW project. Target vs. Walmart is a good example.

...They don't make Goliaths any bigger than Walmart. The retail landscape is littered with those who tried to beat Walmart at their game. But Target was different. Target created a new playing field, we'll call it "Tar-zhay". On the Tar-zhay playing field, it isn't about the lowest price. It's about value-priced cool. And affordable chic. It's about good design for a good price.

So while Kmart, Montgomery Ward and others were trying to slay Goliath on Goliath's turf, Target was changing the playing field and, thus, changing the rules. We all watched what happened to both Kmart and Montgomery Ward. Target not only survived the confrontation with Goliath, they thrived...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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