Saturday, September 19, 2009

Desert Island Reading List

Blogger Jon Jagger describes himself as a self employed software consultant-mentor-trainer-programmer etc specializing in agile software development (people and process), test driven development, deliberate practice, design, analysis, OO, UML, curly bracket languages (C#, C++, Java)

Jon recently published a list of 10 (+1) books he would like to have if marooned on a desert island. It's a fascinating list, and not only because it contains three of my books. You can read Jon's justification for each book at:

But here they are. How many have you read?

* [1] Kevin Ashurst. (1977 Long out of print). World Class Match Fishing, Cassell, ISBN 0304-297291.

* [2] Phillip Pullman. (1995). The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in USA, Knopf), Scholastic, ISBN 043995178X

* [3] Douglas Adams. (1979). The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Pan, ISBN 0330258648

* [4] Gerald Weinberg. (1985). The Secrets of Consulting, Dorset House, ISBN 0932633013

* [5] Gerald Weinberg. (1998). The Psychology of Computer Programming: Silver Anniversary Edition, Dorset House, ISBN 0932633420

* [6] Monty Python. (2001). The Life of Brian (screenplay), Metheun, ISBN 0413741303

* [7] Jon Bentley, (1989). Programming Pearls, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0201103311

* [8] Fred Brooks (1985 2nd edition). The Mythical Man Month, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0201835959

* [9] Peter Senge (2006 2nd edition). The Fifth Discipline, Random House, ISBN 1905211201

* [10] Gerald Weinberg (2001). Introduction to General Systems Thinking Silver anniversary edition, Dorset House, ISBN 0932633498

* [11] John Gall (2002 3rd edition). The Systems Bible: The Beginner's Guide to Systems Large and Small , General Systemantics Press, ISBN 0961825170

So, that's Jon's list. What would be on yours? Are any of Jon's choices books that you wouldn't care to have on your desert island?

p.s. Jon's going to be at AYE Conference in November, and so will I, in case you would like to discuss choosing books and other topics with us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

50 more ways to improve your business

Wolfram Arnold writes:
Here are the points I've transcribed from the meeting today. At some point I lost count as to which one was odd and which one was even and I just recorded them all (touch-typing helped :-):

Jerry Weinberg 8/20, 50 things to improve business

2. back up everything

4. Rule: do nothing, revised with 3 caveats: a) don't do it if there's someone that can do it better; b) don't do it if there's someone that can do it adequately; c) if it makes me really happy, do it anyway; d) if someone can do it 85% as well as I do, let them do it; e) anything not worth doing is not worth doing right; f) if in doubt charge for sales trips

6. make them pay something, with their time, their money -- if they don't pay for it they don't value it

8. if it's not on paper, don't do it

9. listen to what other people are telling you

10. don't communicate to somebody, but communicate with somebody

11. always have an exit strategy

12. make them feel like your client has a part in the final outcome; make sure they have their fingerprints on it

13. listen for what they're not saying

14. listen to the "music", body language, intonation

15. always be ready to sell your product

16. if you find yourself reluctant to sell your product, there's something wrong with it

17. any successful services company has some fixed priced product to sell

18. given them entry points that they can buy

19. recurring revenue model, e.g. via contract maintenance plans, or follow-through

20. have a follow-through clause in contract so you can know how you're doing

21. charge more money if they don't want you to come back after some time, e.g. 3 months

22. if you just build it they probably won't come

23. manage expectations, book: Managing Expectations, by Naomi Karten

24. Time spent in reconnaissance is time well spent

25. You can observe a whole lot just by watching (Yogi Berra)

26. Go hard or go home; fully commit all resources needed, or kill it mercilessly

27. Commit enough to learn what you have to learn to find out whether it's worth pursuing or killing

28. People who work in an Agile/iterative way often fail to do the discovery

29. Ideas by themselves aren't as valuable as you think they are; don't guard them too closely

30. Nothing is as dangerous as an idea, esp. if it's the only idea you have

31. Never rest on your past successes; there is always something more you could be doing; if you're not learning, you're dead

32. Sharing competitive advantages brings 10-fold rewards; give it away, it comes back

33. Being able to say 'no'

34. Research clients as if you were hiring them

35. Recognize that every client is unique.

36. You don't have to remember everything to succeed.

37. It's ok to let a client go if it's not the right fit; you should organize your business such that it's ok to let a client go, i.e. don't be over-dependent on any single client

38. The best way to build a business is to stay in business; stay around, build a reputation and credibility

39. Actively solicit feedback from clients; actively extract the feedback, e.g. watch the audience

40. Don't be alone in your work; have someone to talk to

41. Honor the people who are your sounding board and bring feedback, e.g. life partners, friends, ...

42. Anything that's annoying or repetitive should be automated or stopped

43. Track your budget & cost every month

44. Don't make mistakes over your budget or your cost.

45. Don't spend your money on office decoration, esp. if your clients don't come to your office

46. Always try someone out before you hire them

47. Don't fall for the big lies: "we're just about to get funding" "our data is clean" "your check is in the mail" "we're going to sign it next month, just keep working" "don't worry about the contract" ...

48. Preventing any one of these mistakes will pay for this conference

49. Double your reading speed

50. Choose not to read a lot; don't read stuff that's not worth reading

51. Stay off Facebook & Twitter

52. Sometimes you can save money by spending money; and sometimes the reverse. Learn to tell the difference

- Thanks for the great job, Wolfram