Echo: Quantity Not Quality

I’ll attempt at stealing Marika’s traffic again.  And because my response is long enough to become a blog post:

Yes, Marika that is true.  Writing is an art.

Unfortunately, in a difficult economy you need to be a generalist.  I can write well too.  I can code really well.  But instead of concentrating on coding, I get to do a weird mix of planning, sending off communications, coding, writing documentation, system administration, et cetera.  It is not fun.  And while I am capable of doing all these tasks… I’d rather concentrate on what I really excel at.  But…

There are programmers that can outcode, outthink and outclass me in experience. The older experienced ones especially.  So I can’t compete on their level.  Also I rather have “a” job than “no” job.  And for most tasks in business, “good enough” bets “genuis”.  For coding a website you don’t need a Linus Torvald.  Nor do you need an Ernest Hemmingway for writing dry business articles about mergers and acquistions.  You don’t need a van Gogh, Monet or Da Vinci to paint walls.

Why is this?  Because “genius” is very, very expensive.  “Good enough” means a business can keep afloat, which is what business usually do.  And those profit margins for those fat cat capitalists?  They are razor thin in most cases.

Reality is if you are truly great, you get that awesome great dream fulfilling job.  Everyone else is on the scale of mediocre in terms of jobs.  The best way for that dream job is to be so great in a particular valuable niche, that it is either you or nobody else (for that price of course).  That is how the market goes.  So why quantity over quality?  I dunno.  Maybe because markets tend toward producing commodities for the unwashed masses.  The idea is to come up with a way to use resources to produce goods and services at nominal cost approaching zero.  That is a good thing for everyone.

Echo: Good Little Girl Syndrome

In response to Marika’s post:

Hmm… ok my opinion might not be the most popular but since you asked.

Women are women. Men are men. They are built differently, so why shouldn’t they act, interact and work differently? I’m not endorsing sexist division of any form here. I firmly believe that every individual should be treated with respect and dignity. Note, EVERY individual, no exceptions, no compromises.

What many feminist ask women to do is to throw away their feminine attributes and embrace masculinity. Then what do you have, a man living inside a women’s body? If that sounds wrong, then it should. Cause it is. There is nothing wrong with the feminine/motherly attributes of caring and nurturing. Men really suck at this. We are better aggressive pursuits, endurance, etc.  And that is good too. As a race, we need a balance of attributes to make sure we survive in the face of changing conditions.

As for your question for women in business… If you ever read Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, he devotes a note specialled aimed at men wanted to start their own business. He writes, that if you are a guy and you come up with a business plan you should discuss with a women. You see society in general frowns on men’s urge to kill stuff. Except in terms of business. Tell a guy, this new business will kill Google or Ford or Motorola or <insert name of successful business here>, and he’ll say it is a good idea. But that is not the point of business. The point of business is to provide a product or service that someone values enough to they want to give up a portion of their earnings to get said product or service. So bringing your idea to a woman will get that insight, whether your idea is a sane business plan.

A woman’s contributions thanks to her feminine attributes doesn’t end there. Want someone to manage the day to day and juggle tasks effectively? Sorry, but not a gent’s strong point. Want someone to nurture good relationships with a client as a person and not as the next “kill”? Thats right, ladies you are better at that. Want someone to point out that your product is going to be used by a person? You get the idea. Women do bring a lot to the table in business. An enlightened businessman (whether the person is a man or a woman is irrevlant, I just hate using politically correct wording) will recognize this, and engage with working with men and women according to their individual skills, talents and attributes.

Now I understand the concern, that higher up men usually dominate. But it is also a very competitive and aggressive environment up there in the CXO world. Most women would not want to engage in overtly aggressive activities. But CXOs have to get out there and compete hard with others. Those are simply the attributes of the job. And hence the illusion of a glass ceiling for women in business forms in people’s heads. The uncomfortable truth is that most guys don’t mind if a women does work in CXO positions. In fact, they look up to those ladies who can tolerate the aggressive driving nature of upper level business. The other uncomfortable truth is most women dislike or operate worse in these kinds of environments.  Not to say that no woman should be a CXO. Some thrive in this environment and good for them! Every individual needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. But in general, there are fewer women in CXO positions. Also there are many stories about women getting to the upper levels, and then realizing that kind of work didn’t suit them.

So it is not that women can not be successful in business. It is justsuccess must be measured not only in terms of salary and paid benefits. Success comes when a person feels like they are fulfilled in life. When a person feels whole and everything is in balance, that is success. Repressing your nature just for a higher position is not a sign of success. It is a rather an admission of failure to accepting oneself. That is why I think that your coworker’s thoughts are downright derogatory and demeaning. It does the opposite of its intent. It looks down at feminine nature as weaker than masculine. And is a blantant lie. Feminine nature is different than masculine nature. Different not worse or better.

Perfection in Your Process

I have a serious character flaw. I’m a perfectionist. Nothing kills creativity like trying to get everything right the first time around. One of the most important skills I learned in professional writing: is create first, edit to perfection later. Give yourself leeway and freedom to make mistakes and to experiment.

There is a second part to the lesson though. You must treat and follow your process as closely one should practise religion. In writing, a process gives you the structure to write faster, better and with more freedom. In programming and developing applications, rigour in sticking with your process is essential for the project’s health and your sanity.

Processes like planning, documenting, testing, deploying and fixing bugs should be well worked out in the developer’s mind. Being drilled, the developer can control her environment better. In a controlled environment, there are no surprises or unexpected issues. Everything works with the precision, logic and accuracy of a Swiss watch. With a well documented and followed process, you can measure efficiency and progress.

In a controlled process, you can work out what you can expect to happen and how. Your developers can gauge how their work is progressing. Your designers can see how well the implementation follows the design. Your testers know where to spend time testing. And your business people, can figure out the cost in time, people and materials your project will take. Everyone know what is expected of them. Your team feels less stress, and works more effectively. That is why ideas like Sigma Six and best engineering practises exist. Japanese manufacturer stressed over their processes bring them to perfection. No wonder why Japanese manufacturers can corner the market.

Without a process, chaos ensues, stress builds and projects fail. So if you manage a team or a project, do your team a favour: figure out a process that works for everyone and stick to it. Your team will appreciate less stress and chaos. And your bosses will appreciate a project well done. Perfection belongs in your processes.

Menacing Migraines Ahead

Scientist should start classifying migraines in scale based on the pain inflicted upon an individual. Perhaps they should count number of perceived neuron deaths. At least I think they should. I rate mine a 4 out of 5.

But my headaches can not be as severe as the ones in Redmond. Since everyone (and their pet dog) has a prediction of what the potential takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft means, I decided to add my own opinion to the mess. As Matt Assay points out, lots of money will be thrown around for this acquisition. But rather than the high risks, it sounds like Microsoft has a waken up to a painful realization: no one actually cares about operating systems. This acquisition may actually signal Microsoft’s weakness.

Just look at the way Linus Torvalds views Linux. An operating system should be invisible to a user. The user shouldn’t care about what the operating system does, only that it works. Users only start caring when something goes wrong, software or hardware wise. If it works great.

Hardware manufacturers don’t care either. And the open sourceness of Linux lends well with manufacturers too. Here is a stable ready made platform, not controlled by any organizations. No need to pay per device royalties. No need to purchase expensive development kits to write drivers for. If the manufacturer decides to open source their drivers, they get the added benefit of the community donating fixes too.

Now Microsoft have a problem. They can’t compete with Linux on price. They can’t compete on developer freedom. So they get no love from manufacturers. And most user surf the web most of the time anyways. Almost everyone hates Vista anyways. Some users even find installing Linux sounds less painful than using Vista daily.

In fact this past year has been a headache for Microsoft. The lack luster performance of Vista. Nintendo trouncing both Microsoft and Sony with their Wii. Resistance of the ISO to standardize OOXML. And the year ahead does not look much nicer.

So what to do? Buy Yahoo. Try gaining solid dominance of the web in terms of personal web services. And hope that the cash cows called Windows and Office hold out against the steady march of open source and the web. Maybe the evil smiling duo of Google and Tux will go away by themselves.

Suddenly my migraine does not seem as a bad.