CRM software runs my life

Month: November 2010

Movember 2010

30 days worth of growth...

This is the second year that I have participated in Movember, a great initiative to raise money for men’s health. Google Australia put together a strong team to compete, so I had no excuse not to join the cause. If you don’t know what Movember is, here is the summary from their website:

Each year Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in Australia and around the world, with the sole aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression in men.

The program started in Australia, but has now spread to 9 more countries around the world. It’s really great to see Australia coming up with programs like Movember and Earth Hour that make a difference to the world.

If you would like to donate to my (poor) efforts to help, then that would be greatly appreciated! You can do so here:

Facebook makes you emotionally stunted

Facebook and Zuckerberg are worshipped in a book, movie and this article. I have nothing but respect for the guy and what he has achieved, but what is it doing to society? And if I was cynical (and/or a capitalist), how can we use that change to predict the next big thing?

The quote at the end of the article really struck a chord with me:

We may laugh at Socrates, in the Phaedrus, for denouncing literacy, which he said would create “forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves…. They will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”

Is this the first recorded recognition of our increasing degree of specialisation? People’s general knowledge is reduced, and instead focused on a very niche area of experience (i.e. they can rewrite Facebook in Java in under a week, but can’t cook a meat pie).

This specialisation has now extended into the social space. We have less time to socialise, our relationships become more casual, and therefore we need a tool like Facebook to painlessly maintain our fragile web of relationships. Facebook doesn’t deliver a whole lot of intimacy in return, so the numbing cycle continues.

I am not going to make a comment on society becoming more emotionally stunted, because it will make me seem anti-change and old fashioned. Instead, perhaps we can use this as a predictor for future social trends? How can one socialise more efficiently? I only want to be invited to the parties that my best friends are all going to. Alert me when I haven’t replied to my friend’s message within 48 hours. Let me know when I haven’t been tagged in any photos for 7 days and clearly need to get out more. Automated social network maintenance!

The Goal – Book Review

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt was brought to my attention when my director came out to discuss our operations team and ask where the bottlenecks in our organisation lay. When he referred to Herbie, I had to know what he meant.

The first thing to note about this book is that it is a story, not your normal dry textbook style business book. I guess teaching through narratives worked for the Bible, so why not a business book? It is a tricky balance though, and I feel at some points the author gets a little distracted by the back story. To make up for this he then compresses a number of key points into one paragraph of wise dialogue. It all flows reasonably well overall, it just means you can’t start skimming what appears to be light reading or you might miss key insights.

So what are the morals? The story starts with plenty of despair and common frustrations, but I love that it also starts with a reasonable company making reasonable decisions – yet everyone is burned out and under resourced. In my experience this is an incredibly common situation and probably where the “work smarter, not harder” phrase comes from. Even though the book sets its story in a manufacturing plant I found it really easy to adapt to my experience, especially working with an Agile software development team.

The solutions expressed in the book are all about a back to basics approach to finding and optimising within your constraints. Every process has a bottleneck, the trick is identifying what it is and then applying techniques to make the best of what you have. For example, if your developers are constantly overworked then test the requirements documents before they start work and offload some of their tasks to other roles who are not bottlenecks. Sounds simple right? To justify these changes to your accountant you can note that if your developer works 50 hours a week and your total operating expenses for a week are $50,000 then the cost of them wasting an hour is $50,000 divided by 50 – $1,000. This is because it adds downtime and inventory jams across the rest of your process and is the limiting factor of overall output. Puts things in perspective right?

The book doesn’t stop there however – it talks about synchronising bottlenecks and non-bottlenecks, the importance of minimising inventory, how to focus on market demand across your organisation, why data is misleading and no substitute for getting out on the floor, problems with modern efficiency accounting practices and even how organising a regular “date night” with your partner is a good idea! Overall I really loved this book, it was very easy to read and relate to. Although it doesn’t mention this, I think it is a great read for fast growing companies that face resource constraints every day and can get easily distracted by their purpose as a company.

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