QUERCUS BLOG
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Category Archives: Growth & Development

“How do I learn…?” – A Suggested Process for Learning The New Shiny

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Filed under Growth & Development

Anyone who works in the IT industry will tell you that nothing is ever static. One has to keep up their skills and stay abreast of the newest developments and changes to the tools we use to get the job done. Every 18 months, things change. There is always something that I like to call “The New Shiny”.

So two questions arise:

  1. Where do I start?
  2. How do I learn the ins and outs of “The New Shiny”?

While I do not claim to be a guru, I have been called “a learning machine”. Read on to see how I tackle the challenge of learning new things in my personal development process.

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The Programming Life Cycle

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Developing Teams, Growth & Development

You Don’t Need a Methodology. You Need a Toolkit.

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Growth & Development

Now, before anyone starts typing an angry response, let me say up front that methodologies are fantastic tools. Unfortunately, they are just that, tools. Just like a mechanic cannot fix your car using a single monkey wrench, a Business Analyst cannot effectively perform their job with nothing but methodologies. I have seen an increasing trend in the IT industry that is putting more focus on methodologies. And what’s the problem with this, you ask? They sound great in marketing materials. You can add fancy and colourful graphics that show how a project or task will theoretically proceed. They can be described as “robust”, “comprehensive”, or whatever other buzzword you want to use. In short, they look great on paper and can be very appealing to potential clients. However, as Business Analysts, we are selling ourselves, our chosen profession and our clients short if we rely on nothing other than methodologies.

I encourage you to take stock of what you have in your toolkit. It should contain all of the skills, resources and knowledge that you use to perform your job. This is where the true power of the “toolkit” analogy lies. By putting all of your skills and resources in the context of being a tool, you are forced to identify if you are proficient or weak in the use of that tool. Now, put your toolkit together. Throw your communication, facilitation and documentation abilities in there. Put more specific skills like strategic planning, data design, graphic design in there too, if they’re applicable to you. And yes, put your methodologies in there, they are after all a resource that you use. As you are building your toolkit, keep track of anything that you feel weak at, so you can work on developing those skills.

As Business Analysts, every project or task that we work on will have its own unique attributes and nuances. Those differences may arise due to the nature of the people we are working with, the technologies we’re using, the environment we find ourselves in or the structure of the team we’re on. This is likely not news to anyone, but the key here is that every situation is unique, and it is exactly this uniqueness that makes it impossible to have a “one size fits all” methodology. Go ahead and use a methodology that fits the project you’re working on, but even more importantly, use your skills and knowledge to deliver the outcomes you are responsible for. Remember that the goal of a project is not to successfully complete the steps of a methodology, but rather to deliver value to the stakeholders.

Going forward, let’s refocus on delivering value with the best tools we have. What’s in your toolkit?

‘Busy’ Is Not a Badge of Honour.

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Developing Teams, Growth & Development

When people ask you how work is, do you reflexively respond ‘work is busy’?  While you likely have many outstanding tasks on your plate and projects that need your diligent attention, ask yourself these two questions:

1) Is ‘being busy’ part of your self identity?

2) Does ‘being busy’ mean that you are also productive?

Paul Andrew, a blogger with theLeadershipCoach.com, suggests that if being busy = part of your self concept, then something is amiss.

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The Danger of Reactive Communications as a Management Approach

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Developing Teams, Growth & Development

Reactive communications is the opposite of transparency; it is when management withholds information until every possible detail is known, and the event itself has finally occurred. The employees are not informed before the event, nor are employees engaged as part of the input and analysis process.

Reactive communications are impersonal, crafted, spun, and often written or recorded as opposed to spoken face-to-face. Most of all: reactive communications are delivered well after employees have a chance to provide input. Business authors Jo Ann Sweeney and Roger D’Aprix explain more about reactive communications, and how this is becoming a tragic trend of distrust in modern corporations…

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Cognitive Biases and the Modern Software Developer

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Growth & Development

Software developers see themselves as logical creatures. No doubt, being trained in the art of programming means you are taxing your problem-solving skills on a daily basis. Still, as human beings, we all suffer from cognitive biases which can get in the way – especially if we don’t know about them to begin with…
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Trying On New Hats – Videographer

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Filed under .NET, Corporate Culture, Growth & Development

As a software developer working in a small company, I get to wear many hats. For the first time, though, I’ve had a chance to tap into my more artistic hobbies at work: videography.

Headshots, group photos, stock photography, and event photos are not new to me. I do enough in my spare time that I’ve become Quercus’ photographer.

Haha! Business!

Haha! Business!

"Do go on..." (one of our outtakes)

“Do go on…” (one of our outtakes)

"This shiny slab here is called a monitor."

“This shiny slab here is called a monitor.”

Kalin and Brandi

Kalin and Brandi

Recently, I’ve also had a chance to try my hand at videography at work.

Why you should work at Quercus

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The idea of working for a small growing company has always appealed to me. I think the concept of building something and seeing the tangible effects that my daily work has on the foundations of something is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Read More »

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