Reflecting on talent and projects – Inspired by Andy Hertzfeld

I would like to share three brilliant quotes by Andy, he is one of the best developers in the world, and was part of the original Mac team:

1. “First and foremost, you are your own customer: You build stuff that you love yourself. What Woz did with the Apple II was he just filled it up with so much love — love because it was his lifelong dream… That’s the basic approach I learned, to work from your heart, and to really, really care.”

2. “We try to operate at the intersection of design and engineering. One of the reasons why things aren’t as good as they could be sometimes is that the engineers and the designers don’t work closely together enough” This quote repeats a fundamental idea of Steve Jobs, that he wanted Apple to operate at the intersection of Liberal Arts and Technology.

3. “The real breakthrough of the Macintosh was that we cared about UI… I learned in a formative experience that caring about UI matters, and if you do care about UI, you can make the world a better place.” Another core value of Apple, create an Experience no one else can match.

Andy is working now to make Google+ a success. His care for design and code shows all over Google now, and is evidence of how important is to have the right people in a team.

The connection between individual talent, and team goals are the reason behind every great success. People are extremely important, and caring about them makes better projects, better products, better services and ultimately a better world for us all.

Source: San Jose Mercury News
Image Credit: Traczine Blog.

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Tom Cargill. Bell Labs.

It sounds a bit funny, yet so many times it’s true. The question is why?

The reason is what I call: “The Waterfall Trap.” Any project, at the moment it starts, uses logic, knowledge, experience and good practices to guess the future. That’s right the plan is at best a very good educated guess.

Waterfall methodologies for software development, or project management turn this guesses into stone. Stones usually called Milestones, Targets or Deadlines.

The funny thing is as time goes by, everyone can see the future more clearly, everyone can guess we won’t make it. But the Waterfall Trap includes a clause of Inflexibility, no target is ever revised, any revision is seen as a failure from the plan. So instead of improving the prediction, the team often goes to a land of overtime, where quality decreases, morale falters and even health suffers. Only when disaster strikes in these circumstances are plans revised, but usually under an unfair banner of targets missed.

The truth is, we can only guess-timate the future. Can you even predict you will be alive tomorrow for sure? Now you can’t! A car could hit you, you may slip down the stairs, etc. So if we can’t predict our own tomorrow, it’s no surprise projects where multiple resources and challenges are involved, are hard to predict. It’s actually rather remarkable that Waterfall projects, or any project with dates set on stone makes it within the 90-90 rule!

The Agile Way however, is quite different, it embraces chaos and unpredictability, through open, sincere communication, it prepares and adjusts for change, and for unexpected problems. It is not against planning, but rather as we move forward in a project it adjusts to reality on the ground.  As a consequence it allows the team, our “troops” to work hard, but with strong morale, and good pace, to deliver a quality product.

General Patton once said:

Make your plans to fit the circumstances.

It doesn’t get more Agile than that. Agile planning means intelligent decision making, every step of the way, including revising estimates, and moving the team to victory. An Agile Team should never live the 90-90 rule, they should be close to 100% every time, simply because they acknowledge reality, and plan for it.

Over 16 Years Ago an Ad Agency Imagined the Future for AT&T and It Came True

Albert Eistein said: “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”

Few times has this quote been so true as shown by the amazing accuracy of these series of ads, entitled: You Will. Paid for by AT&T they feature the unmistakable voice of Tom Selleck, and with over 90% accuracy of the future, it really amazes me.

It is a future we live today! Tablet computers, iPhone like devices, Internet Tele-conferencing, super-fast Pay Tolls, and more.

As IT, and business people we tend to focus too much in the here and now, and forget the future. But if we could envision that future, we could help to shape it, and perhaps, even make a few dream come true. 

More is Less: >=<

One key concept to grasp in any form of goal setting, project management, or actual effort in life is that we should strive to never do more than needed, but have a goal of simple elegance. We must realize that More is Less. 

Perhaps one of the best ways to illustrate this principle, it to quote Seth Godin with some comments added by yours truly: 

Good enough, for those that seek perfection, is what we call it when it’s sufficient to surpass the standards we’ve set. Anything beyond good enough [MEANING MORE] is called stalling and a waste of time.[ MEANING LESS]

Ultimately, when maturity arrives we will also discover that LESS is MORE. We will eventually notice that if we remove stuff from a project, product or service, and yet keep it elegant, and good, we will reach excellence. 

In book writing this comes from editing a 1000 page manuscript to 250 good pages. In software interfaces this means a beautiful, simple UI that even a kid can use. In projects it means simplicity over bloat. One side benefit of this philosophy is that you will have more time to enjoy life!

Image Credits.

Mobile Apps are definite Trend in the world today. Apple annouced this morning, Jan. 22nd. 2011 that they have reached 10 billion app downloads! 

Think about it, the App Store opened in July 2008, and in 2 and a half years they reached that milestone. It took the iTunes Music Store almost 7 years to reach that number! People are downloading and buying Apps at an unprecedented speed.

What can we learn from this? First that Apps are here to stay, And second Apps are the new normal, the standard way software will be delivered from now on. Now wonder Steve Jobs put an AppStore on Mac OS X, why? Over 10 billion reasons.

Note: iTunes Store opened in April 28, 2003, and reached 10 Billion songs downloaded on Feb 24 of 2010.