Twist your Brain with Kuboku

Last June, I offered a prize at the FPMs (Faculté Polytechnique de Mons) to Aurélie, the best student getting her Civil Engineering Master in IT and Management. Obviously, I googled around to find out more about Aurélie. It proved fruitful since I found a very interesting brain teaser: Kuboku. This is Sudoku in 3D.
Kuboku : Sudoku in 3D

Kuboku : Sudoku in 3D

My wife is really a Godess when it comes to solving such puzzles, she does them so fast that I cannot even understand how she manages to do it. I am eager to see how she will play this 3D version. I am not going to dig into more details on how she beats me flat a the Dr Kawashima's games on the Nintendo DS as I've long understood that she sports a much better CPU than I do for mental calculations. She still calls upon me to open locked jars though. Back to Aurélie, it appears that she runs another site named Make Your Contest. This may be interesting to use in the future. So, I am going to improve my brain a bit with Kuboku :-)!

Dr Martin Seligman, Happiness and My Friend Luc Taesch

End of last year, I was feeling a bit down and Dr Alan Weiss  pointed me to Dr Martin Seligman. He told me that the Positive Psychology story of Dr Martin Seligman would be good for me. Check the following video for a very funny version of the approach: And see Dr Martin Seligman at TED in 2004: As part of his mentor program, I have to say that signing up for the mentor program was one of he smartest things I did in my life. So, Alan's advice was great and turned my world upside down once more! I discussed the concepts with my friend Luc Taesch and he got really hooked on the idea as you can see: My own results to the top 24 strengths include the following top 5, which make me a knowledge craving, pretty non standard creative guy who makes things happen in his own way, having fun along the way, with people enjoying my company. Not too bad an assessment. It is in line with my line of business which is to improve the way of working of organizations. Given today's crisis, you better have to run your business the creative way or get killed by the competition. Let's get in touch 🙂
Your Top Strength
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible. 
 Your Second Strength
Love of learning You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn. 
Your Third Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery. 
Your Fourth Strength
Humor and playfulness You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations. 
Your Fifth Strength
Capacity to love and be loved You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.  

Lean Marketing ™, Joe Gregory, and Debs Jenkins

Andrew Bass and Philippe Back in Brussels After meeting with Dr Andrew Bass in Brussels last week, I read the Gorillas Want Bananas book. The book is about Lean Marketing, "the Lean Marketing (tm) Handbook for Small Expert Businesses". This sounded interesting since I am running a small expert business ("SEB, c'est bien" - you have to speak french to get this one). So, based on Andrew's recommandation I got in touch with the authors, Debbie Jenkins and Joe Gregory. I like their approach a lot and am starting to put the concept in practice starting this week.

The UML in perspective

Ivar Jacobson has written a post on the UML: I do share the key insight that 20% of the UML is useful for discussing software matters with others. The more of it you use, the less people can follow your point, even down to the fact that only you can understand what you say. Diminishing returns? You bet.

What you need is smart process

Trashing, productive, and process work Smart process does ineed maximizes the productive work I do come across quite a bunch of projects. Some are managed by customers, others by me for customers, others managed by my outsourcing partners for me. One of my objectives is usually to improve the way of working so that trashing is reduced to a practical minimum and productive work maximized as much as possible in a lasting fashion. Well, the true goal is to maximize my margin, reduce the hassles, keep my sanity and peace of mind. Read: keep defects agressively down so that I do not have to work on done stuff over and over again (burning money that could have been better used), but rather can concentrate on new, horizon expanding stuff. All while delivering stuff that works so that customers are happy, production teams deliver what they have been asked to, and cold cash circulates for the benefit of all. Achieving the above mentioned goals requires "process work." What is process work? Process work represents the percentage of work the team will do to deal with organizing itself, communicating effectively, define and measure its way of working in order to improve it, communicate with the external parties, put tools in place etc. Process work is work you would rather not do if given the choice, but if not done will lead to so many bad consequences that you do it. Not doing it will sooner or later lead to massive amounts of trashing that in turn will send the project on a dead end downard spiral to Hell. Only those with sociopath and/or masochistic tendencies want to ever go there by choice, albeit lots of people do end up there because of the ignorance of the basics by their leaders (or lack of guts to be the whistleblower by the latter). What is trashing? I came across the concept of trashing in the work of Steve Mc Connell from Construx Software. The concept is general in nature and not specifically linked to software. Trashing represents the percentage of the work spent on jettisoning badly made parts, on reworking things due to defects, on dissipating energy for no clear purpose. When an activity has no clear objective, it amounts to trashing as well. Excessive amounts of process work are the same as trashing in my view. Trashing is like when you run in circles, not knowing what to do next. You may look busy, very busy even, but it is obvious to an external observer that this is non sensical. How much process work do I need? How much of it is an important question. Too little and trashing will increase dramatically quite fast, too much and you get yet another bureaucracy (the triumph of means over ends, as Alan Weiss would put it).. Large endeavors will require more process to keep trashing excesses at bay. Smaller endeavors will do with as little process work as is possible. Think in ROI terms when approaching the process work. Also, on the individual level, one may like the high productive work percentage of well run small projects and just hate the necessary significant process work of a well run large project. Well, one can also think that procrastination princes are equally at ease in any badly run project of any size! Should I be a process bigot? Hell no! What I have learned by now is that process bigots are fully unable to achieve anything meaningful. Achievers, get it done types, do understand the value of process but never do put process ahead of results. As an achiever you hate having to do things multiple times. You perceive time as the scarcest resource of all and having to do things the moronic ways makes you want to cry, or crush some skulls open. As an alternative, you could end up depressed, but skull crushing may prove to be more satisfying. This doesn't means that you should not learn carefully about process work. But rather that process shouldn't become an excuse for not getting results. . Keep an eye on the cooking pot Also, this is not a set and forget choice, you have to keep an eye on things so that the project doesn't degenerates into a huge chaotic money drain. How does the amount of process work evolves along the project? Well, this is depending on how the project is run. Let's have a look at several scenarios: Scenario 1 : let's' wing it or "Too little too late" Scenario 2 : process police rules or "Torqemada is here" Scenario 3 : it will be forever okay my friend or "Denial mode::ON" Scenario 4 : let's do this properly and keep our finger on the pulse I'll develop each of these scenarios in the next part of this article. See you soon! In the meantime, comments are welcome!