Archive for Soft skills

Blogging for PR

My former company InfoSupport allowed her employees to have their own weblog at the company blogsite. For everyone who wanted to start blogging an account was set up enabling the employee to share theire knowledge with the world.

Some employees were unable to produce more than a couple of entries, but others produced a continous stream of information. The counters on the pages indicated that the information was interesting for readers worldwide. I believe that writing a blog is a way to establish yourself as a “thought leader“. A blog will help you become thought of as an expert in your field.
At InfoSupport, we discovered that people reading the posts became interested in joining the company, and clients became interested in working with the company. To my belief, that’s good P.R.

My current company, Getronics, does not yet have a company weblog, so I’m using my personal weblog at WordPress now.

Rich Ord wrote an interesting post on Blogging for PR which I will quote here:

Why Blog For PR?

According to a report at the Web 2.0 conference there are now over “4.1 million blogs around the world with a new blog created every 7.4 seconds”. However, there are only about 5000 company blogs. That leaves a lot of room for you to stake your niche and gain valuable exposure.

An article in BusinessWeek highlighting blogs new importance to companies states, “Blogs or websites with content management systems are changing the model for companies, we really now have to engage customers on a one on one level”. With Microsoft leading the way, corporations have accepted blogging as an integral part of public relations. Companies now recognize the need to talk to their clients and potential clients in a more intelligent and unbiased way.

Business blog expert Wayne Hurlbert sums up the reason to blog for PR, “A rapidly growing number of journalists and editors are reading blogs on a daily basis. It’s becoming imperative that a company start a blog to keep up with that trend”.

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Often forgotten tips for better writing

Rich Chiesser describes Eight uncommon tips to improve your writing.

He describe these tips as uncommon not because they are rare or unique, but because they are so infrequently used that when he sees them employed it is a refreshing and rather uncommon occurrence.

The eight tips are:

  1. Match Style to Intent
  2. Outlining
  3. Story Boarding
  4. Match Tone and Detail to Audience
  5. Echo Some Words and Phrases
  6. Active Voice
  7. Grammar
  8. Proof Reading

Indeed, these are very commonsense tips, I added some detail from my own experience and from an internal memo I received some fifteen years ago:

  1. Match Style to Intent
    1.1 For what purpose is the text written?
    1.2 For whom is the text written?
    1.3 To what questions gives the text answers?
    1.4 What are the results, recommendations, conclusions?
    1.5 Why is the text written?
    1.6 What was the assignment?
    1.7 Why is the text written in this way and this order?
  2. Outlining
    2.1 Is the division into chapters clear?
    2.2 Is there a logical sequence in the chapters?
    2.3 Is the subdivision in paragraphs clear?
    2.4 Is there a logical sequence in the paragraphs?
  3. Story Boarding
    3.1 Are the relations between chapters and paragraphs clear?
    3.2 What is meant by the title?
  4. Match Tone and Detail to Audience
    4.1 Do you connect at the foreknowledge of the reader?
    4.2 Is the text suitable for the reader?
    4.3 Is the amount of explanation sufficient?
    4.4 Do you give precisely enough details, or too much or too little?
    4.5 What is the importance of the text to the reader?
  5. Echo Some Words and Phrases
    5.1 Restate the assignment, to emphasize you are really doing what is asked for. 
  6. Active Voice
  7. Grammar
  8. Proof Reading
    8.1 Is the text free of contradictions?
    8.2 Are the conclusions based on facts?
    8.3 Are the arguements for and against the recommendations given?
    8.4 Why are some subjects mentioned, and others not?

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Patterns for Daily Stand-up Meetings

On one of my previous projects we organized daily stand-up meetings, where everybody gathered together at 09:00. In turn everybody said what they did yesterday, what the planned to do today and whether anything was hindering them to make progress.

After a while, it appeared that some people had something to say every day (and some had a lot to say) and others never had anything interesting to share. Somehow, the stand-up meeting was not working.

Jason Yip published a comprehensive post about stand-up meetings, and discusses a number of “patterns” used. Perhaps we should have looked into the “Pigs-and-Chickens” pattern before…

James ShoreMore wrote a chapter on stand-up meetings in his book The Art of Agile Development. Some chapters of the book are available as preview

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How are your analysts doing?

Now that's timing! I started this week at my new job at Getronics PinkRoccade and will divide my time between doing regular projects and working on Software Engineering Process Improvement. We'll define the processes, set up measurement and determine  how succesful we are and how we can become even better.

Just at the same time Marcus decided to post about a related subject. 

He concluded that you can measure the success of business analysts on three basic areas:

  • Quality (how good are your deliverables)
  • Time (how well do you meet expectations)
  • Resources (e.g. do you facilitate understanding across the business and IT teams)

Marcus references several of his earlier posts.

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Prioritizing Software Requirements with Kano Analysis

Kano analysis is a quality measurement tool used to prioritize customer requirements based on their impact to customer satisfaction (definition from ISixSigma.com)

Scott Sehlhorst (from Tyner Blain) posted some items on Kano Analysis on his blog and wrote an introductory article in Pragmatic Marketing called Prioritizing Software Requirements with Kano Analysis.

 Kano analysis

Kano analysis allows us to prioritize requirements as a function of customer satisfaction.

Kano defines four categories into which each feature or requirement can be classified (an Apple® iPod® is used for examples in each of the following four requirement categories):

1.Surprise and delight. Capabilities that differentiate a product from its competition (e.g. the iPod nav-wheel).

2.More is better. Dimensions along a continuum with a clear direction of increasing utility (e.g. battery life or song capacity).

3.Must be. Functional barriers to entry—without these capabilities, customers will not use the product (e.g. UL approval).

4.Better not be. Represents things that dissatisfy customers (e.g. inability to increase song capacity via upgrades).

Center for Quality Management’s special issue on Kano Methods offers a very comprehensive set of articles on the Kano Model. Very academic.

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The Five-Step Program For Overcoming Management Lies

Lidor Wyssocky posted a five-step program for overcoming the Management Lies Kathy Sierra posted about. Nice reading.

He included a step in case you risk becoming a manager yourself in the future …

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Even my mother can use it …

Lots of lies, lots of fun…


"Even my mother can use it.

(Read: My mother has a degree in Computer Science and she develops her own apps, and she will find the feature easy to use.) "

Top ten lies of Engineers (From Guy Kawasaki)

1. “We're about to go into beta testing"
2. “I don't know anything thing about marketing…”
3. “I'll comment the code, so that the next person can understand what I did.”
4. ….

The REAL Top ten Lies of Engineers list (from Marcelo Calbucci)

1. We are on track to ship on the scheduled date.
(Read: we will be 2-3x late)

2. This feature will only take a week to add to the product.
(Read: the feature will take 3 weeks).

3. We should rewrite this component because it’s full of bugs.
(Read: I can’t understand what the previous engineer did, so I think it is easy to write from
scratch. It will have the same amount of bugs, but at least I’ll understand)

4. …

Top Management Lies (from Kathy Sierra):

1. "My job is to be a buffer between you and upper management."
(Read: Your job is to make me look good to upper management.)

2. "We value your criticism and ideas."
(Read: If you're so smart, how come I'm a manager and you're not?)

3. "We set reasonable deadlines, and we never underbid our projects… so our employees don't need to work weekends."
(Read: Since when is Saturday part of the weekend?)

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