Nik

Nik has written 481 posts for niksilver.com

Remember the lessons from history… and their context

Our corporate rules, customs and processes are there for reasons. We usually know what those reasons are, or we make assumptions, but often we forget the context behind them. That can lead to problems. Here are two examples… 1. The case of the many gates My friend Gus Power tells the story (better than me, … Continue reading

Managing the business, not the risk

There’s a subtle idea around risk management that I’ve come to understand, and which Norman Marks repeats often: “It’s not about managing risk. It’s about managing the organization for success!” I say it’s subtle because I occasionally get it wrong, and it seems well-known organisations do, too, which is what Norman is complaining about in … Continue reading

Achieving excellence is hard work

Some time ago I was working with a team that made a mistake in generating its release notes. I took on the task of improving the process to avoid us making that mistake again. It shouldn’t have been difficult, because someone else told me how they thought it should it be done—I just needed to … Continue reading

Additive skills and multiplicative skills

When I find people in my team who are particularly strong in some area of work I get itchy. Of course it’s great that they have those skills—whether it’s with a particular technology, a strength in technical design, domain expertise—but then the gap with others becomes more apparent. I want other team members to have … Continue reading

A strategy for making progress

Often in a work environment I find I’m faced with difficult problems, and while I manage to find ways to move forward, I do this without knowing exactly what the end state should look like. An example of such a problem might be agreeing the best process for something within a team, or a company. … Continue reading

Measuring communication skills

Previously I talked about how to measure seemingly intangible things. The trick, roughly, is to be able to articulate what differences we witness in the real world if the seemingly-intangible thing happens. The other day I was discussing with someone communication skills in meetings, and how we might not only improve that, but also measure … Continue reading

Making use of wider talents

I’ve worked with many people in my time who I value greatly. To consider software developers as an example, some are just excellent at writing software, but the ones I generally value most of all are those who can do more than just that. They are people who can speak to a client or an … Continue reading

The cost of new technology

When a development team introduces new technology to solve a problem, they are adding a long term cost, too, even though it may not be obvious. This is one way that a technical decision is a business decision. Last week I was speaking to a friend about Erlang, a technology designed in the telecoms sector … Continue reading

A good strategy will say what not to do

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of a business strategy, and its relationship to a product strategy and a technology strategy. But if we’re going to produce a strategy, or if we need to evaluate one, what distinguishes a good one from a bad one? A technologist thinking about creating a … Continue reading

Impact estimation tables (roughly)

Last week, two days in succession, I had cause to solve a problem using impact estimation tables. Unfortunately this technique is not widely known, so I thought I’d have a quick pass at explaining it. For many more details—beyond the simplicity of the description below—you really need to see the work of Tom Gilb, who … Continue reading

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