Archive for category Misc.

We’re not “resources”

Resources. It’s a dehumanizing term that is also flat-out wrong for nearly every profession I can think of.

Project planning requires estimates and scheduling. I’ve got no problem with that except when it treats people as interchangeable cogs. In a manufacturing process, skilled workers might be interchangeable. There are only so many ways to stamp out a piece of machinery or otherwise work the assembly line. The process can be perfected to the exact number of steps involved in making a thing. Read The Toyota Way to get a better feeling for how world class manufacturers achieve this.


But there are many, many professions that do not and can not achieve worker utility, where swapping out one “resource” for another is feasible or sensible.

Does George Steinbrenner schedule a “short stop resource” or does he get Derek Jeter? Do they Yankees want homerun hitting A-Rod or a mere “3rd baseman resource”?

Did the Chicago Bulls staff a “shooting guard resource” or did they need Michael Jordan?

Did Apple do well when it had a CEO “resource” or did they achieve the incredible after Steve Jobs came back to lead the company?

Do you want a 1st year medical intern (your “doctor resource”) performing your brain surgery or do you want the foremost expert in the field?

Do you want an “acting resource” or does Brad Pitt have more marquee power?

When was the last time you looked for a “contractor resource” instead of hiring the very best contractor you could find to renovate your home?

Thoughtworkers and creative types are no different. Software engineers are simultaneously creative and logical, and there is an order of magnitude difference between the best and worst programmers (go read Peopleware if you don’t believe this). Because of this difference, estimates have to change based on the “resource,” which means we’re not interchangeable cogs after all.


You can schedule me to be the Yankees 3rd base resource (thereby saving cost in the Cost-Schedule-Quality tradeoff), but I’m certain the quality of the product would suffer despite the fact that I played little league baseball for years as a kid. Similarly, you can cast me in your movie, but I’m not sure I’d sell any tickets. I wouldn’t do any better running Apple than John Sculley, and you definitely don’t want me performing brain surgery.

Talent matters.

Winning organizations build winning teams, they don’t schedule resources and they don’t break up a winning team. They pay top dollar for top talent knowing that it’s entirely talent that makes a winning team.

Steve McConnell’s widely acclaimed Rapid Application Development ranks “Weak Personnel” as the 2nd classic mistake an organization can make when trying to build software. In discussing teamicide in Peopleware, DeMarco and Lister write “Most forms of teamicide do their damage by effectively demeaning the work, or demeaning the people who do it.”

Talent matters. Treating highly intelligent software developers as “resources” is demeaning, dehumanizing, and ultimately counterproductive to an organization that needs to build and field a winning team.

It’s always the last place you look!

I’ve been telling my friends this for years, so it’s good that I’ve finally got a credible website with evidence proving the theory. I will also try to help my friends if they ask “Have you seen my ________[fill in the blank]?” I’d ask in reply, “Where’s the last place you put it?” It’s always the last place you look!

song chart memes

Design Patterns Quick Reference Cards

Jason McDonald’s printable design pattern reference cards were printed by DZone as part of their “RefCardz” iniative.

You can find Jason’s cards here and you can find other useful design patterns stuff here.

Vapid defined

This may have nothing to do with technology or software or what I do professionally, but still …

Choose your definition:


Who Saved Watt?!

My family uses compact flourescent light bulbs. Our next cars will be hybrids. We’d love to go solar when the price per watt for the panels comes down, and I support net metering to allow people to reduce their monthly bills by putting energy back onto the grid . We recycle religiously. We’re green or at least we’re trying to be.

So I made the Who Saved Watt?! site to a) encourage people to switch to CFs and learn other little conservation habits and b) add their saved watts to the aggregate total. I’d love to make the total interactive somehow, like a Google Map showing all the energy saved by locale. That’s for a future version.

Here’s my eco-friendly merit badge:

I saved

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