5 things that will make you a better leader

There are 5 things that if you start doing today your path to leadership will be much better.

Leadership is not bossing someone around, it is deeper than that. Leaders go first and eat last. Leaders open the path ahead instead of pushing them towards the unknown. Leaders are leaders because their peers follow them, not because someone put them there.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Orange and and Brown Chess Pieces

Ordering someone to do something is easy. Leading them to the right path is hard. But don’t worry. There are 5 things that if you start doing today your path to leadership will be much better.


Value other opinions

A leader knows he/she cannot do it all alone and he/she does not have the answer to every question. A good leader regularly seeks guidance from the team, because he/she knows that they are the experts.

Being a leader is not about pushing your ideas. You should be open to being wrong, and to be honest, you should crave to be wrong. Otherwise, how would you learn new things?

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do…

Steve Jobs

Develop leadership in others

Man Kneeling on Baseball Field Beside Man
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A good leader makes his/hers job not needed. At least, I like to think like that. My goal as a coach is to make my team not need me anymore and train others to take my place. If I can do that, I consider it successful.

As leaders, we need to provide to others the opportunities to grow. Coach them. Give them the tools. And after some time, let them lead the way.

Focus on WE instead of I

There is no I in team, right?

That is an old saying and very true. Good leaders are part of the team, not above, below or to the side of it.

Every decision you make as a leader should focus on the growth of the team, not advancing your own agenda.

Act with humility

Leadership is not a title. A good leader doesn’t think he/she is better than everyone else, instead, he/she is a team player. A good leader doesn’t show he/she is in charge of the team decision, instead, he/she coaches the team into making those decisions.

Be a servant to the team

Selective Focus Photography of Four Pawn Chess Pieces
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A good leader is a servant leader.

The focus is on the team becoming better, not by bossing them around, but by coaching them. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.


Lead by example, not by force.

Cheers,



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Relearning might look like a good thing, but it’s not

If learning is good, why is re-learning a waste?

How much did civilization lose, when the great library of Alexandria burned to the ground?

👇 (This is the same intro for all the lean waste posts. If you have read it already, scroll down for 4 paragraphs) 👇

We waste time all the time. Small unimportant tasks. Procrastination. Looking at nothing (this one is not really a time waster if it clears your head). The world is filled with traps that make us waste our time, and some of them we already know how to detect and adapt to them.

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Lean Manufacturing talks about the 7 lean wastes, these wastes can also be mapped to software development.
During these next 7 days, I will pick up one of the wastes and investigate the following questions

  • Why does it impact our work?
  • What could be the causes of this?
  • How can we measure it?
  • How can we avoid it?

For today, the focus is re-learning. If learning is good, why is re-learning a waste?

How much did civilization lose, when the great library of Alexandria burned to the ground?

Learning how to do something is the most rewarding experience one can have. But if we learn and then forget, what value is in this learning?
The same goes for software projects. If the code we do is so complicated that the next time we look at it we don’t understand, that is a very big waste of time.

Information that is lost in translation, lack of comments or documentation, is information that we will need to re-learn later in the future. Re-learning is usually fueled by other gateway drugs of time waste. Hand-offs, delays, and task-switching are the major causes of having to re-learn what we already did.


Why does it impact our work?

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  • We don’t learn new things and keep re-learning that same thing over and over.
  • If we don’t remember, we are doomed to commit the same mistakes.

What could be the causes of this?

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

How can we measure it?

Photo by Lukas from Pexels
  • # time to repair. If your bugs are similar, the time to repair should be reduced over time
  • # similar bugs. If we keep committing the same mistakes.
  • Code standards, smells and linting.

How can we avoid it?

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  • Code should be properly documented and reviewed by your peers
  • Refactor constantly to keep the code fresh
  • Automate everything that can be automated, that way you don’t need to remember
  • Continuous improvement – Kaizen
  • Pair programming and knowledge sharing

Cheers,



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Why you need to stop obsessing about working hours

It feels a bit strange that in 2019 we are still talking about working hours and how different they are from hours worked

It feels a bit strange that in 2019 we are still talking about working hours and how different they are from hours worked. How many hours someone spends in the office. How many coffee or cigarettes breaks they take (Don’t do cigarettes. It’s bad for your health). Or worse, how much time they spend chatting next to the water cooler, or coffee machine.

Working SMART instead of working HARD

During the height of the industrial revolution, having a factory job was the thing. We would probably be working as part of an assembly line. Each one of us would be specialized in doing the same repetitive task over and over. The longer we were there, the more we would produce.

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A long time ago we tried to do something similar in I.T. We estimated our projects in man/hours. We used to estimate the output in lines of code. Heck, we even created the role of Line Manager to help all of this go smoothly. Does this role sound familiar? That is because the Line Manager comes from Assembly Line Manager. We were always bad at coming up with names.

I.T. work is a creative one. Algorithms are not created by spending hours in front of the computer, they are created in your head. Problems are not solved by injecting new lines of code, they are solved by thinking, and sometimes, to properly think, you need to move away from your desk. Move to a new place to stimulate the brain, and then work on the problem.

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Luckily, for some of us at least, over time, we came to realize that outcome is different from output. We understand now that having fewer lines of code is better than more. Why? because it is easier to maintain, review and test.

Hours spent on site are not a synonym for good work. Most of the time the relationship is the complete opposite. If you have a colleague always sitting at their desk without a break, there may be 2 underlying problems and you should try and help him/her.

  • He/she is not good enough (yet) to perform the task in that time-frame. This means you should seek to train or mentor their technical skills.
  • He/she has really bad time-management. This one is harder but it can also be trained.

High performers will be able to work without looking at a computer. Their mind is always debugging and creating new algorithms. They try and find inspiration outside of their own box. Talking with a colleague over coffee. Going outside to look at the street. The most important part of the work happens in the head, not on the keyboard.


It is not rocket science to be a good manager. The job is not to control what your team does. How many breaks they will take. Or at what time they arrive at the office (especially if you don’t know what time they will leave).
Instead maybe bring coffee to the team. Create a good working environment, not a hostile one, and you will see how much more your team will produce.

Lead the way and bring them with you on this journey. Pull them in, don’t push them out.

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You can disagree with me, and that is fair. You can do the complete opposite. But remember, in the end, they are the ones creating the value, not you. If they are not happy, they will find another place. And in today’s market, that’s not a hard task.

Cheers,



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The most important metric you need to track

For today, the focus is Delays. This is the most important metric you should be tracking because it impacts everything else.

👇 (This is the same intro for all the lean waste posts. If you have read it already, scroll down for 4 paragraphs) 👇

We waste time all the time. Small unimportant tasks. Procrastination. Looking at nothing (this one is not really a time waster if it clears your head). The world is filled with traps that make us waste our time, and some of them we already know how to detect and adapt to them.

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Lean Manufacturing talks about the 7 lean wastes, these wastes can also be mapped to software development.
During these next 7 days, I will pick up one of the wastes and investigate the following questions

  • Why does it impact our work?
  • What could be the causes of this?
  • How can we measure it?
  • How can we avoid it?

For today, the focus is Delays. This is the most important metric you should be tracking because it impacts everything else.

Delays, or waiting time, impact all the other lean wastes. For example:
If you have to wait, you will pick something else to do. This causes context/task-switching.
On the other hand, what blocked you is still not done. This causes partially done work.
If by any chance your work is done, but you are waiting for feedback, there is a high chance you will pick another part of that project. This can cause extra work that the customer won’t need. But we don’t know because we don’t have the feedback yet.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

It is like one thing fuels the other and enters a never-ending spiral of wasted time.

Why does it impact our work?

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

What could be the causes of this?

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

How can we measure it?

Photo by Lukas from Pexels
  • Age of the backlog. Old tasks that are there waiting for a long time.
  • The amount of time an item is flagged.
  • Gates in the process. I.E time waiting for UAT, waiting for release approval.
  • Gap between development ended and test starting.
  • Gap between work DONE and releasing it to production.

How can we avoid it?

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein from Pexels

Cheers,



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Why you need to eliminate hand-offs to be more effective

I need you to create a functional document, then I will read it, create my technical document and give it to someone else. Sounds familiar?

👇 (This is the same intro for all the lean waste posts. If you have read it already, scroll down for 4 paragraphs) 👇

We waste time all the time. Small unimportant tasks. Procrastination. Looking at nothing (this one is not really a time waster if it clears your head). The world is filled with traps that make us waste our time, and some of them we already know how to detect and adapt to them.

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Lean Manufacturing talks about the 7 lean wastes, these wastes can also be mapped to software development.
During these next 7 days, I will pick up one of the wastes and investigate the following questions

  • Why does it impact our work?
  • What could be the causes of this?
  • How can we measure it?
  • How can we avoid it?

For today, the focus is Hand-offs. These can come in the form of documentation, extra training or meetings.

I need you to create a functional document, then I will read it, create my technical document and give it to someone else. Sounds familiar?
When we are all done, we will create user manuals and run-books for the team that will maintain our project. To make it easier for them, we will have several meetings where we explain what we did and how it runs.

Sounds like a lot of work? That is not even the worst part. This whole process follows the assumption that nothing, absolutely nothing, will be lost in translation.

Code is like a good joke, if you have to explain it, you are doing it wrong.

Add this to a developer working on more than one project, and you have the trifecta.

Photo by George Becker from Pexels

Hand-offs that need to happen when we switch from project to project, to keep the team informed. Task-switching by moving from one task to the other, in some cases, several times a day. Partially Done work, because you never finish what you start. Keep jumping from one task to the other.


Why does it impact our work?

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  • Information may be lost on the hand-off chain
  • This requires extra effort in the form of meetings, more documentation, and possible training
  • If we use documentation as the only source of hand-off, there is a limit of what can be represented in text and diagrams. Try teaching someone to ride a bike by reading a bike riding book.

What could be the causes of this?

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  • Teams don’t own what they do
  • Too many gates to your process. For example, if you are using the waterfall way of working.
  • The hidden hand-off is when a developer passes the code to a tester to test.

How can we measure it?

Photo by Lukas from Pexels
  • # of sign-offs in your process
  • # of extensive documents that your team needs to produce for other teams.
  • QA specific tasks. UAT team.
  • Time spent on the steps of your process that are not done by your development team.

How can we avoid it?

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein from Pexels

Cheers,



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All you need to know about this week’s posts.

This week’s focus was on time wasters. Things that we do everyday without even noticing that take our time away from other more important tasks.
Here is a quick summary of what happened.

Welcome to the end of 2019 week 44. This week’s focus was on time wasters. Things that we do everyday without even noticing that take our time away from other more important tasks.
Here is a quick summary of what happened.

📅 Monday: An inexpensive way to gain more time.

LEAN WASTE #1 : Task-switching and context-switching are costing us time.

We humans believe that we are great at multitasking, even though it has been proven time and time again that we are really really bad.
Intrinsically we know this. We even get angry when someone interrupts us …

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

📅 Tuesday: Want to get more time? Do that hard task now.

Procrastination towards hard tasks keeps us hooked on task-switching between what we like and what we dislike.

Unlike some productivity gurus, I am a firm believer that we should do what we don’t like before. Get it out of the way, and then we can properly focus and enjoy the things we like to do.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

📅 Wednesday: How to unlock the value of a definition of ready.

Not using it as a gate, but as a communication tool towards your product team.

This is an on-going battle for the agile community. Should we have or not a definition of ready?

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

📅 Thursday: Parallelization is a hoax, do one thing at a time.

LEAN WASTE #2 : We need to finish what we start before picking up something new. Partially done work provides zero value and keeps us task-switching.

Partially Done work. Some say this is self-explanatory, but I believe it is a bit more complex.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

📅 Friday: How to do less work and skyrocket your productivity?

LEAN WASTE #3 : Spend time figuring out what matters instead of doing more stuff.

This is a clear case of effectiveness vs efficiency. We have the best code ever. 100% test coverage. A dream pipeline that delivers everything to production without a single bug. If no one is going to use it after, we just wasted our time.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

💡 Saturday: This is what I’ve learned this week.

A retrospective of the week that passed and what I’ve learned from it.

Hello everyone, one more week gone and another about to start.
So far a good start of the weekend. I am writing this post with a sunny day, something that is not very common in the Netherlands at this time of the year.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL …

Cheers,



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Want to get more time? Do that hard task now.

Unlike some #productivity gurus, I am a firm believer that we should do what we don’t like before. Get it out of the way, and then we can properly #focus and enjoy the things we like to do.

No one likes doing those pesky hard tasks, I know it, you know it, it is what it is.

We often procrastinate and push them forward with the hopes that they will be forgotten. That they will disappear into a sea of confusion with other hard or harder tasks.

The problem is they never disappear, or at least the majority of them. But why should we do them now now?

As mentioned yesterday, one of the biggest time wasters is task switching. But will you task switch if you leave it for later?

Unfortunately, yes. Because you know, that hard task will be in the back of your mind. You know that while you are doing the other stuff, this one will creep into your thoughts, just to make sure you don’t forget it.

Unlike some productivity gurus, I am a firm believer that we should do what we don’t like before. Get it out of the way, and then we can properly focus and enjoy the things we like to do.

Cheers,



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