Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/21

Kendall Guillemette and I are gonna get a discussion session together at Seattle Mind Camp tomorrow on sustainable work/life patterns. We’re calling it “Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns (…is Calacanis a Saint? Something Else?)”.

See flier below. Some seeds for the discussion —

  • How do you structure your work?
  • Is banking on a buyout like saying, “I’m gonna play in the NBA?”
  • What’re your successes?
  • Your epic fails?

Also cool — we plan to use an iPhone audio meter to insta-poll the crowd on what we should talk about (if it’s a decent size).

Special shout out to all those who need a refresher on “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”.

Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Cardboard Sign Devs: The Movie

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/09/14

From the hilarious, but a little too close to home dept —

CANCELLED: GTD Meetup for March 26

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/26

Tonight’s GTD Meetup where I was going to lead a discussion has been cancelled due to venue double booking.

We’ll be rescheduling and will keep you posted.

If anyone knows of a good alternate venue with wifi, please ping me so I can pass word along to Mike Wilkerson, the organizer.

Leading Discussion at Seattle GTD Meetup on Monday

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/24

I’ll be leading an informal discussion of some of the online project / task collaboration tools I’ve used at the Seattle GTD Meetup at 7 PM this Monday, March 26th at Hale’s Ales in Ballard.

Drop by and say hello — I plan on giving an overview of Basecamp, activeCollab, and my new favorite Vitalist.

Great Primer on Open Source Folkways

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/15

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that two good friends of mine here in Seattle were cross posting on their blogs about Flash/Flex momentum and how a healthy open source governance structure might be helpful in pushing momentum even further.

My natural question — have you guys met face to face? Wanna grab some food?

So last night I met Ted Leung and Ryan Stewart for dinner down at Ivar’s on the waterfront. Great time, great view, great conversation.

Though Ted and I both work in the tech industry and have been friends since Mind Camp 1.0, I had never heard him talk about his long history with open source communities and governance (Apache, et al).

All I can say is that I learned a ton about that and distributed project/team folkways in general.

Great, great evening.

Gratitude as the driving force behind Google

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/09/28

Here is a cool quote about what drives Google engineers —

The thing that drives the right behavior at Google, more than anything else, more than all the other things combined, is gratitude.
It is well buried in this long articulate rant by Steve Yegge on why most Agile development hype is akin to sci-fi religion yoohoo — he frames the nice stuff by so much self aware BS detection that, well, I kinda believe it.

Definitely want to digest the whole thing as I have more time.

Berkun on ‘How to detect bullshit’

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/14

From Berkun’s latest ‘How to detect bullshit’

White lies are the spackle of civilization

That is awesome.

Creating Passionate Users: Organic creativity: the Roomba process

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/07/31

Kathy Sierra does it once again in Organic creativity: the Roomba process, this time summing up the importance of agile development methodology in a tight metaphor –– “the Roomba approach to organic design” ––

While this don’t-plan-every-damn-thing-in-advance model has started to gain popularity in the software development world, most, um, old-style programmers like me had an almost opposite model beat into us from the beginning. The well-intentioned concern for future extensibility, flexibility, scalability led us down the design garden path… skipping along assuming that WE were the smart ones who’d be ready when the dreaded yet inevitable Requirements/Specification Changes came in. With enough upfront design and extra coding, we could make our life down the road much easier. What we lost in time-to-release now would be more than made up for later. So we said.

But then the Extreme Programming and Agile Manifesto began to challenge that idea. While not everyone has drunk the XP koolaid (and oh how I hate forced pair-programming), most modern software development teams have been heavily influenced by at least some of the XP/Agile once-edgy, now more mainstream practices.


The Seattle Getting Things Done July Meetup

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/07/05

UPDATE: Due to a hearty response, location has been moved to Hale’s Ales in Frelard at 7:00 pm. Details at —

Am going to try to make the The Seattle Getting Things Done Meetup — 7pm, July 17th at Dad Watsons in Freemont.

Mike Wilkerson is organizing and will be demo’ing his Tablet PC / Mind Manager / Results Manager setup.

Ping anyone else you know who’d be interested and tell them to join us.

The eLearning Access/UX Shell Game

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/02/09

One of the most overlooked necessities of success for an eLearning system is easy self-service access (and navigation).

Ever since the cut-to-the-chase design of Google’s interface beat the everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink design of MSN and others, clear and simple “Don’t Make Me Think” system design has become the expected norm of nominal users everywhere.

And, when it comes to eLearning systems, this consideration will often make the difference between whether your $100k+ investment in this stuff is going to return results that are more of a bang and less of a whimper.

A great case study of this reality can be found in a recent edition of Elliot Masie’s Learning Trends Newsletter.

In it, Graham Higgins, the Chief Learning Officer of Cathay Pacific Airlines, talks about how engineering their entire organization around employee’s easy access to self-service activities was the hedgehog concept that would lead to the eventual great success of their eLearning initiatives —

We started in the mid 90s with self help flexible benefits, you choose how to spend your benefit dollar value. From those who preferred to be looked after we had open hostility, we had taken away our care for them. 2 years later it was just the way we did things and it was smart, convenient, and gave people some control that they valued.

I love the fact that Higgins then goes into detail on how ‘putting something online’ is not the cure-all that many frame it to be. The hard lesson of many eLearning projects is that anteing up the cost to put training online is no guarantee of success.

Like its many capital expenditure cousins, eLearning has as good a chance as any of leaving organizations feeling like they’ve just paid big bucks to play a board walk shell game — all those promised benefits are under which one?

And yet, as Higgins points out with a couple of tipping points toward success, it doesn’t have to be that way.

First example he notes is that these projects require careful attention to user experience (UX) design — ie. Is this thing easy to use? Is it intuitive? Do I have to think how to do what I’m trying to do?

Self-serve, however, if it is on line needs to be designed with the same insight and investment as a commercial website. I have been in conversations with software vendors where they reassured me that the interface is not that intuitive but they will provide user training to make it work. No No No. That really is abandonment, if your customers feel that your site is hard to use they wont use it, why make it difficult for employees to self help. If customers feel that your site is there to push your choice of product they will go elsewhere, why should we design employee processes that don’t give choice, control and ease of access.

The important nugget to remember here is “ease of access” (and, if you know anything about me by now, you know that Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” approach to this stuff is the Bees Knees).

As Web Yada.Whatever.You.Wanna.Call.It has shown us, it’s doesn’t matter how much it costs if it’s not easy to access and use.

Another great point Higgins makes is that Cathay Pacific did not force folks into getting knowledge a certain way — instead, they focused on the knowledge itself. If you had it, you could test out, if you didn’t, you had easy access to get it in a way that suited you.

The step forward was to agree that if someone could take an assessment and demonstrate the capability to apply the new knowledge to his or her job, then it was not necessary to show that they had attended a seminar or completed the package. How they got that knowledge didn’t matter, we provided access to self teach tailored on line learning options for different work streams, copies of the policy, descriptions of cases, links to external websites, and email access to the in-house experts.

Combined, these guiding principles created a Buildup-Breakthrough Flywheel momentum that resulted in great success —

10,000 employees, and we hit 96% success within a couple of months. The main failure points? Some people could not remember their login in Ids and used their friend’s, no track or trace for them. Back to the design of easy access.

Good stuff to note on this eLearning journey.