Archive for the 'Wisdom' Category

How most companies’ policies get established

True? True! Laugh IT loud on the Monkey Experiment:

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.

One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder.

All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why.

However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him.

This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

And that is how most companies’ policies get established.


Recently I came along Johnnie Moore´s post in which he comments on a presentation that Dave Snowden held in Singapore on “Complexity in Government“.

And I agree that in slides and podcast there is serious food for thought.

One quick takeaway:

In nature, stability and resilience are opposed. A stable system lacks resilience and a resilient systems lacks stability. So it’s ok to stabilise things if you’ve got certainty of future; if you’ve got uncertainty you can’t afford stability you’ve actually got to introduce inefficiency.. if you don’t have a degree of inefficiency in the system it loses its evolutionary potential.

Closed platforms are like ice cubes in a glass of water

Closed platforms are like ice cubes in a glass of water. They float for a while. They change the temperature of the liquid. Ultimately however, the ice cube eventually melts into the wider web.

Jean-Marc Liotier in a comment to an worth reading article in the LA Times about Twitter (which is down at the moment…)


McCarthy’s Four Laws of Software Estimation.

Some principles from Michael “Mac McCarthy, repackaged and labeled by Alan Zeichik :

The First Law: If you ask a developer for a project estimate, and if he thinks the project is a good idea or would pose an interesting challenge, then he’ll say, “three weeks.”

The developer has no idea how long it will take, but “three weeks” sounds encouraging enough that you’ll probably go ahead with the project.

The Second Law: If you ask a developer for a project estimate, and if he thinks the project is a bad idea or wouldn’t be fun to work on, then he’ll say “six months.”

The developer still has no idea how long it will take, but “six months” sounds negative enough that you’ll probably say, “never mind.”

The Third Law: Whether the developer estimated “three weeks” or “six months,” if the project proceeds it actually will take a minimum of nine months.

That’s because, Mac says, developers are bad at software estimation.

The Fourth Law: When asked why the project is behind schedule, the developer will blame inadequate or incomplete specifications

Simply the truth. (via vowe@twitter)

Der Unterschied zwischen Leistung und Erfolg

Michael Groß im Gespräch mit der FAZ:

Sie haben innerhalb von 24 Stunden zweimal Gold gewonnen. Waren das die zwei intensivsten Tage ihres Lebens?

Nein. Was intensiv war, war der 30. Juli. Da habe ich die 100 Meter Delfin mit Weltrekord gewonnen, relativ überraschend, es war ein Kopf-an-Kopf-Rennen mit dem damaligen Weltrekordhalter Pablo Morales. Wenn ich ein Rennen nennen sollte, das nahezu perfekt gelaufen ist in meinem Leben, dann ist es dieses. Dann war eineinviertel Stunden später die 4×200-Meter-Kraulstaffel. Da sind wir viereinhalb Sekunden unter dem Weltrekord gewesen, ein traumhaftes Rennen, es hat eigentlich alles gepasst. Und trotzdem sind wir nur Zweiter geworden, hinter den Amerikanern. Das hat mich bis heute insofern geprägt, weil ich den Unterschied zwischen Leistung und Erfolg gelernt habe. Du kannst die höchste Leistung bringen und trotzdem nicht erfolgreich sein.

What makes a weblog a weblog?

Oldie, but Goldie. By Dave Winer. From 2003, but still fresh.

Rather than saying “I know it when I see it” I wanted to list all the known features of weblog software, but more important, get to the heart of what a weblog is, and how a weblog is different from a Wiki, or a news site managed with software like Vignette or Interwoven. I draw from my experience developing and using weblog software (Manila, Radio UserLand) and using competitive products such as Blogger and Movable Type.

A dog could have managed the ’90s

Says GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt to managers at GE:

You were put on Earth for this moment. A dog could have managed the ’90s. Anybody could have, but only the best can do 2009!


is the fastest way to mediocricity. Says Jason Fried of 37signals.

I feel the same at the moment. But, after all, I am in a transition from my old job into the new position and have not yet been able to had over much of the old tasks.

Could be out of my mouth, after all (sorry for the fullquote):

I’ve been buried under a lot of work lately. I don’t know what happened, but in the last 10 days or so I feel like I’m working three jobs. Paperwork, administration work, design work, vision work, writing work, misc. work.

My desk is a mess. My desktop is full of icons. My inbox is overflowing. I have a list of people to get in touch with. I have what feels like a hundred decisions to make.

I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. And the primary observation that comes out of all this is that multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity. Things suck when you don’t give them your full attention.

I’m not thrilled with the work I’ve been doing lately.

This isn’t a breakthrough, it’s just a reminder. If you want to do great work, focus on one thing at a time. Finish it and move on to the next thing. It means some things aren’t going to get done as fast as some people may want. It means some people aren’t going to get your full attention for a while. But doing a bunch of crappy work, or making a bunch of poorly considered decisions just to get through the pile isn’t worth it.


The Scoverity Scan Open Source Report 2008. Here.

Mythbuntu – a Ubuntu based home entertainment addon .

And the XBMC Media Center, which is multi platform. Anyone having experiences?

The Sopranos, uncensored. Consider yourself warned.

Overview of WebOS. From Palm for the new Pre. Interesting Stuff.

The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan – Open Funding. Hard Rules, but hey, if you want some of his money, you have to play according to his rules. (via)

Jakob Nielsen: Macintosh: 25 Years. Love this quote:

During its first decade, the Mac offered clearly superior usability compared to competing personal computer platforms (DOS, Windows, OS/2). Not until Windows 95 did the PC start to approximate Mac-level usability.

Despite this Mac advantage, PCs have sold vastly better in every single year since 1984, and the Mac has yet to exceed a single-digit market share.

The Mac’s miserable marketplace performance seems to pose a strong argument against usability. Why bother, if it doesn’t sell?

The counter-argument is that usability is the only reason Mac survived.

Programming Sucks! Or at least, it ought to. From Alex Papdimoulis of the Daily WTF. Lots of truth in that piece. Developers, developers, developers!

A brief summary of GTD. Shit, I am still not disciplined enough.

Coding Horror: The Ferengi Programmer. Who has not seen at least one from that tribe? And: The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. Love this one:

#208: Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.

NerdGuru Pete Johnson: The Software Sales Pitch – Choosing Wisely

It’s a common tale:  Some business need arises for capability your IT department doesn’t currently offer but there are multiple commercial alternatives available and maybe even an open source solution that can help you fill your gap.  Then again, you could always write the thing yourself.
Build? Buy? Both?

A cheat-sheet for WordPress. Worth a look if you haven´t one already.

That´s for now. More maybe tomorrow. Potential topics: Cloud Computing, Better Presentations, Microblogging and Social Networks.

Quote of the day

Don Corleone: Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.