Archive for the 'Personal' category

Freedom, Civilization and Leadership

April 2, 2020 6:51 am

I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep again. Thoughts and ideas were swirling in my head, so I wrote them down. I’m not looking for debate. #Leadership #CallToThink #CallToLead #CallToListen

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are free. You have no rent to pay, no mortgage to cover. You don’t need a car or to pay for the insurance. You don’t need to worry about going bankrupt should you get sick or injured by accident. You can meet your needs for essential food by walking to a grocery store near you. You have shelter, water, energy and waste services. You have freedom to choose what you want to do every minute of your waking hours. What would you do with that freedom?

Now, think about how close to that imagined picture we are right now, in the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19. Everyone is affected in some way, but each one differently. People in essential jobs, connected to basic human needs, are working harder than ever. People who work in jobs not directly connected to basic human needs are sheltering in place and physically distancing themselves from others. Since so many people now work on things not connected to basic human needs, society has come to a severe slowdown. The lifeblood we traditionally use to make society work – money – has stopped flowing easily. It’s as if the world has a giant blood clot in its main artery. Money no longer works well to support our civilization.

Road and air traffic have slowed down dramatically. As a result, our natural environment is becoming healthier. There is better air quality and less carbon dioxide being emitted. Maybe global warming is even slowing down for a bit – what if we could use this global “pause” for something really, really useful?

It seems to be a great time for us to collectively examine what we really need and what we want to do for the future of our civilization. When the current, acute, global health scare is over, do we go back to our old ways – restarting the engine that is creating a slow, imperceptible (for now) global disruption on a much bigger scale than this invisible virus? Could we redesign civilization to be sustainable to the point where we balance our consumption of natural resources with what the living planet can produce (see https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33133712)? Is this a time to talk about slowing population growth, to rethink the purpose of our economic systems, to fully internalize the interconnectedness of all living systems, to reshape or evolve the structures our societies have built with little conscious thought?

If your own answer to those questions is yes, how do you want those conversations to go? Where is the forum for having those conversations? How do you involve 7 Billion people in it? Or 230 million? Or 5 million?

Maybe this is not a conversation for everyone, but for people in leadership positions.

Maybe we haven’t had any real leadership capable of thinking in these ways since our oldest democracies were established.

Maybe we’ve all been too busy, chasing money, status and the acquisition of material things.

Maybe this is a time to develop extraordinary leadership capabilities that span incomprehensible complexities and help to find simple new rules we can start living by.

Maybe this a time for leaders in government, business and industry to dramatically shift their mindsets and perspective from squabbling and competing over money, market share, morality, religion and taxation to stepping into global consciousness and leadership to show us a new way, a new vision, and ways for us to move there?

Maybe this is the time for many to dive into developing their own leadership capabilities.

Is it time for you and me as well?

Classical music and the job search

March 18, 2018 8:37 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

Picture this: You’re listening to a piece of classical music on the radio, and it really resonates with you. You want to listen to it again and again, so you want your own copy of it. But your radio doesn’t have RDS, and before you can find out from the radio host what it is, the signal dies, and all you hear is static. How would you know which LP/CD/MP3 you need to go look for? Chances are, you have no idea. All you know is that you heard some beautiful music, and you want to hear it again. You probably can’t tell which orchestra played it – was it the Vienna Philharmonic or the Boston Pops? So when you get to the record store/music download site, what will you do? Look for an enticing “cover” image/album art? Even if you find one that speaks to you and buy it, it may be that when you listen to the recording, it’s not the same. So now you’re out of money and disappointed. And the orchestra you really wanted to support has missed out on a small contribution to their financial well-being.

Now picture this: You’re at work, and you’ve convinced yourself that you need to hire someone to help you solve a problem. The people already on your team can’t solve it, or there is more work than they can take on. You’ve figured out the particular mix of skills a person needs to have to help you. How do you go and find that person? If you have a good network that might be able to connect you to someone with those skills, you probably start there. What happens if you don’t have that (or you come up empty-handed)? You probably talk to your HR people and tell them what you’re looking for, and since the people there are busy and don’t have the time to actually talk to the potentially hundreds of applicants that will be coming, they either call a recruiting firm or post an ad on a job-seeker website. Then applicants (who have been taught the rules of the job hunting game) craft a resume that matches 80% (or slightly more) of the skills you’re looking for (using an Internet service that promises to mimic very closely the applicant tracking system that will be used by the company to filter out “unqualified” applicants). They submit that resume, and the recruiter’s system (or the HR ATS) matches the resume and triggers an email. Then the recruiter (who most likely doesn’t really know anything about the mix of skills you’re looking for – they get paid for fast placement of people) may interview the person to make sure they didn’t exaggerate their skills. They send them on to the HR person, who probably also doesn’t know much about the skills you’re looking for (and that’s quite understandable – after all, HR has to deal with everything from custodial employees to CEOs). You get maybe ten or twenty resumes to look over, and you decide to bring five people in for in-person interviews. None of them turn out to have exactly the right mix of skills you need. So now you’ve lost time and you’re disappointed. And a person out there is missing out on a major contribution to their financial well-being.

What do you see in these two vignettes? What is broken? What is working? How would you change things? What advice would you give and to whom?

Where to look?

February 14, 2018 8:26 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn, just in case LinkedIn goes away some day… ;)]

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give an encore of my Agile 2017 workshop, provocatively titled “The Introverted Facilitator’s Survival Guide”. I presented it at ProMatch, and organization of volunteers partially funded by tax money. ProMatch helps people who are looking for work with learning about the current landscape of job hunting, presenting accomplishments, resume writing, interview skills, and networking. I find it a really valuable support system while I’m looking for my next opportunity.

I think about 16 people attended, which was a nice number considering the target audience: introverts. I won’t dive into the details of the workshop here (check my SlideShare for the digest version with most of the takeaways). It seemed to land well with everyone who participated, and at some point, I think we achieved what I half-jokingly called “quantum entanglement” 🙂

After the workshop I was pretty exhausted, but I chose to attend a meetup with the Silicon Valley ALN (Agile Leadership Network) anyway, and there I got to see a bunch of fellow (current and former) ProMatch folks (hi Andrew, Liz, Roberto and Jennie!) We learned from Bernie Maloney about harnessing the power of collaboration, and while I had done the activity from that session with one of my teams at work in the past, we ran through a variant that illustrated different aspects of what typically happens in real life.

After both of those experiences, I reflected on the day a bit, and posted a short blurb on Twitter about my satisfaction with the workshop I had facilitated, and how it seemed to have made a small difference in a few people’s lives. One person shared with me that they had a bit more appreciation for the strengths that their characteristics offer them. I interpret that as having been able to provide a small boost in self-confidence for someone else. And that felt very satisfying.

It got me to thinking about where we look to find confidence in our skills and capabilities. I think I tend to look at the people who are much further down the path of their personal agile journey than me, and I keep thinking “if only”. But yesterday I thought about whether that’s the right place to look. Maybe it would be better to look at where I am a half-step ahead of someone else and can bring them along with me a little bit. I wonder if in my quest for increasing my own skills and capabilities, I’m too focused on looking in the wrong direction.

Which direction do you tend to look?

Migrate Visual SourceSafe to Git – A short how-to

November 30, 2013 1:35 am

My hobby/learning projects have been residing in a single-person SourceSafe database for a long time (yes, I know you’re laughing; I don’t care – for single-person projects it’s just fine and dandy.) It was time to start using something new. I wanted to migrate everything, including history, to git.

The first step was to install the latest version of git (Git-1.8.4-preview20130916) on the system that currently hosts the SourceSafe database. If you’re long-term-memory-capacity limited like me and can’t remember git command-line arguments to save your life, you’ll also install something like TortoiseGit while you’re at it. One important step is to choose to run git from the Windows Command line during setup. (The next step needs git in the PATH.)

The second step was to install vss2git (http://code.google.com/p/vss2git/). After some trial-and-error with converting my entire database (a mistake, by the way, see step three) and getting error messages about the log file, I changed the permissions of the install folder to allow “read/write” for every user.

The third step was to convert each main project in SourceSafe (well, via a copy of the SourceSafe folder, actually, just to be paranoid) to a git repository by making sure to use $/Path.to.project in the vss2git tool’s Project field.

image

The fourth step was to convert each of these newly created full repositories to “bare” repositories for sharing across my local network. The command line for that is

git clone –bare –no-hardlinks Path.to.project Path.to.project.git

And that’s pretty much it. A fifth, optional step is to remove the original repository folders that served as the source for the bare repositories (so they don’t clutter up the Windows file share).

I am now the proud “owner” of 13 brand-new, independent little git repositories!

[Update 2013-12-01]

Well, I wasn’t too happy with the above solution. It creates too many nested folders (partly because of how Visual Studio creates stuff in VSS in the first place.) Once I clone the resulting repo, I get something like:

CloneRoot/Uncorked.root/Uncorked.root

That’s not what I want. I need it to be CloneRoot/Uncorked.root at most.

This answer on a StackOverflow question provided a good path to take. Based on that answer, I cobbled together a .cmd file to process all my repositories:

@echo off
for /d %%d in (*) do (
  if not exist %%d\config (
    echo %%d
    cd %%d
    attrib -h .git
    move .git %%d/
    cd %%d/
    attrib +h .git
    git init
    git add .
    git commit -am "moved git root"
    cd ..
    git clone --bare --no-hardlinks %%d %%d.git
    move %%d.git ..
    cd ..
    rem pause
  )
)