It’s not easy to summarise the wonderful work of Chris Argyris. His work on mindsets, namely the Unilateral Control mindset and the Mutual Learning mindset, seems particularly difficult to summarise – and yet it’s so vitally important to anyone who works with other people. Here’s my latest attempt, at approachable wording for the two mindsets. Unilateral… Read More

I think this lovely quote, originally about scientific research, probably explains a lot about how trends come and go in software engineering. after a new paradigm is proposed, the [publication]process is tilted toward positive results. But then, after a few years, the academic incentives shift—the paradigm has become entrenched—so that the most notable results are… Read More

I conducted an experiment today. I chose a problem which Ron Jeffries solved with TDD. I took the opposite approach.  I sat for about 5 minutes and thought about the solution.  Then I wrote down the code, added a unit test, ran the test to find the errors (there were 3), added one more test, re-ran both… Read More

The telling of true stories crops up again and again as a useful interaction technique. It’s easier to raise a dissenting view if you do so my telling a true story; and it easier for others to listen to you. Compare “Your idea won’t work”, with, “At my old job, we tried something similar and… Read More

At the start of my last project, we found ourselves not with the infamous “spaghetti code” but with it’s interpersonal equivalent: spaghetti meetings.  While the group was discussing a topic someone would inevitably say, “Oh, that reminds me of…” and launch into a description of some related, but different, topic that.  This was disruptive and cut… Read More

There’s a very apt saying in IT that, “Assumption is the mother of all ****ups!” (Replace **** with “stuff” or a stronger 4-letter word of your choice!) The same holds true for our conversations.  Often, we leave massive pieces of the conversation out entirely, because we’ve made assumptions about the other persons.  Assumptions about what… Read More

When writing and speaking about People Skills, I’ve often felt that there was something missing.  Something important, which somehow I wasn’t successfully explaining. Recently I discovered a great video from Dr Roger Schwartz, and it fills in the gap.  He points out that learning new skills is not enough. Most attempts to learn new skills fall… Read More

If you were about to attend a workshop on People Skills, what would you be hoping to learn?  What questions would you bring with you? I ask because I’m teaching my first People Skills workshops in a few weeks and am currently fine-tuning the content.  Any tips or suggestions you can offer will be most welcome.… Read More

I’m presenting half-day workshops on People Skills for IT Professionals.  Courses are scheduled in Auckland and Wellington, and available on demand elsewhere. Wellington: 12 June  Details Auckland: 26 June Details… Read More

This Thursday lunchtime I’m presenting the latest version of my ever-evolving “people skills talk”. The occasion is an IITP lunchtime talk. The modest fee, which is discounted for IITP members, includes a light lunch. Details are here.… Read More