The Project Truth

It is a disappointing day again. Integrity and truth is core value of every team. Unfortunately, someone can hide the truth and even act as if the task is done. The person even go to the extent to pretend to find the non existent task. In the digital world, there are many paper and digital trails or even forensic to discover a lie. Have you met with such a teammate before?

Cannot Deliver

Project delivery and commitment is of high importance to all tasks. This applies to both agile or waterfall model. If one cannot deliver, you must have the guts to admit and think of ways to rectify. Such behaviour are usually cultivate since young. The value of trust and integrity is even more important for Agile project. This is because you cannot afford to micro manage your teammates and keep checking if they can deliver.

Can Trust be Trained?

An important value of a teammate is trust. Many ask if this can be trained. Many schools even have trust or integrity as core values. Sadly, this value is cultivated since young. A habitual liar will continue his behaviour from young to adulthood. You will often encounter teammate who promise to submit their task in school project. Their antics will carry on to the work project.

It is constant battle to train the youngling to have integrity. Kids now prefer to enjoy and take the shortest path to success. However, it is time and proven that hard work, trust and integrity taste the sweetest with a good night sleep.

We Do Have the Capability

Recently, there is an interesting conversation that makes me realise of a deep misconception of technical capabilities within organisations. This leads me to think why organisations choose to outsource with the constant view that “grass is greener on the other side”. On the other hand, I am a firm believer to grow and develop in-house “unrealised” capabilities. This belief will be accelerated by the change in paradigm of digital transformation.

Unrealised Capabilities

There is always a misunderstanding that capabilities must be acquired inorganically for all new technologies. This thought may be true in the old days where knowledge and information are shared via books and paper notes. Now, capabilities are often unrealised and untapped like a oil in deep reserve. Management and human resource (HR) must look beyond current skillset to uncover and develop new ones.

Agile Learning

Another key shift is adoption of Agile to acquired the ability to learn. With Agile learning, you can learn rapidly through practical implementation from your domain knowledge. The investment cost to mine these untapped resources will give you a a much higher returns than acquiring time and materials resources.

The mindset must first be change of management to focus inwards to develop rather than acquisition of “new capabilities”. After all, the best returns of investing in capabilities comes from internal rather than external. Digital transformation goes beyond technology and also involves transformation of you gain new capabilities.

Can Troubleshooting Codes be Tested?

Troubleshooting codes is a skillset that is always “taught” in school. There are always test that ask what to spot mistakes in the code syntax. This is often tested school exam, coding certification or interview coding tests. How often are these effective to spot if someone is good at troubleshooting code?

Troubleshooting cannot be Tested

Like all soft skill, it is difficult to test the level of troubleshooting. Tests usually focus on code syntax. This form of test are considered obsolete as compiler will flag syntax errors. Testing on logic flow also do not reveal much on your troubleshooting skills as you can memorise the form of common logic occurrences. This is why you cannot expect a person with lots of certifications as an indicator of good problem solver.

How to Demonstrate your Troubleshooting Skill

This brings the question on how one can identify this skill. There are a few common ways to demonstrate this skill. You can illustrate on how you are able to solve complex problems. Interviewers can also pose scenario based questions and see how the person react. A good problem solver will be calm to analyse and dissect the issues given. Another method is your track record of your career. If you are a problem solver, it is good to show it in your resume.

Scenario based questions are getting popular. Freshies must learn to demonstrate their soft skills. One of a key important skill is troubleshooting codes. Of course, certifications and tests will not reveal such skill. You can only demonstrate it via your track records or confidence to react to such scenario questions.

Back to Phase 2

Singapore is back to phase 2 from 8 May to 30 May with the spike in COVID-19 cases. This time, our workforce is more adapt to remote working or work from home (wfh). It is always great to see how well we switch to working anywhere. Elsewhere, we are also seeing spike and result in travel ban from certain countries. How should the management adapt to changing government policies on the pandemic?

Adapt and React

By now, most organisations are resilient to adapt and react to different phases of government responses to COVID-19. The infections can be unpredictable with waves or cluster of infections. Business continuity remains top priority to ensure service level are similar. In some cases, we need to slow down or de prioritise certain tasks or projects.

Self Organising Team

The pandemic have result in an importance of self organising team. Centralised management of team will be obsolete in face of empowerment. As our workforce becomes remote, decision making must be empowered and teams need to be self reliant. Teams become autonomous and accountable to their projects or job scope.

For all old management, it is time to face the change from the pandemic. Management needs to create self organising teams and empowering staffs. On the other hand, workers must play their part to be accountable to their tasks without decentralise management.

A Startup Mindset in MNC

There is a trend of MNC hiring that requires a working stint or experience in a Startup. One reason is the ability to innovate with minimum cost for a startup. Of course, you will not see such phenomena if you always work in a MNC. So, why are MNC looking for startup capabilities? I will relook my own experiences in Startup and explain quickly why it is such sought after for MNC.

What is a Startup Mindset?

In a MNC, majority of IT are outsourced and dependent on vendors. You give requirements and vendor provide cost and quotations. In contrast, startup have lower cash and can only able to rely on its most valuable skills i.e. human capital! IT solution are often open source and incur zero licensing. The constant need to be creative and innovate with minimum cost will hone the startup mindset in an individual.

Think like a Startup in the MNC

In a startup, you are always hands on for all implementation from business analyst, developer, tester, support and even pre sales. This is the perfect Agile team competencies and each members are capable to handle end to end project implementation. The view is not to rely on vendors and focus to build resource competencies in-house.

It is good to see MNC looking to acquire startup resources or people with such experiences. However, you can also encourage such mindset with a single leader who have such expertise. All I can say, it is not easy to create startup mindset for your team. Do not give up as the rewards are worth it.

Aptitude to Code?

Once upon a time, our current role do not require a developer background. However, things changed when I took over the team. Being able to code or to learn becomes a requirement. One may ask why is this is key requirement.

You can’t manage what you can’t understand

One of the values in many teams emphasis on the understanding of what you are managing. A good phrase is to lead by example. I find that people are more inclined to respect if you know your stuffs well and even get your hands dirty. Often, we seen great talkers who solution with little view of how complex the implementation will be. On the other hand, we also find ourselves hoodwink if you do not understand the workings of the solution.

Aptitude to Code

It is hard to evaluate who have the aptitude to code. Traditionally, computer science students have the most advantages in coding. You can say that this is the safest choice when hiring. We have seen a recent increase of non comp science students who want to enter the world of coding. The question is how to show you have the aptitude.

It is good to see many switch to coding or IT arena. Roles are also favoring people with coding background. For those who wants to switch to these roles, it is more than taking a course on it. You must present your aptitude towards coding and show deep interest in the world of IT.

Why Remote Working is the New Norm

Looking back to year of COVID-19, there comes a few plus point that have happen to the dynamics of working. The one good thing I can think of on top of my mind is the chance of working remotely. This method of working will have never be realised in many Asian countries if not for the pandemic.

FaceTime is a Thing of the Past

In Asia, cultures plays a an important part of everyday working life. FaceTime and long working hours is an indicator of “hardworking”. We are often told to be on time at work. Knocking off on time is frown upon and you are encouraged to clock overtime. There was even one instance where I was assigned more tasks because I was seen leaving work on time constantly (to fetch my kid).

Remote Working Gives Work Life Balance

As many found out, remote working allows each individual to gain around 3 hours of personal time. These time would have been used to spend on getting ready for work or traveling to work. We can now achieve better work life balance by investing these extra time in personal well being like going to the gym.

Working Remote can Maintain Productivity

The pandemic have shown that working remotely does not give rise to a reduction of productivity. In some cases, the productivity increases as workers are much happier with the increased flexibility and work life balance. There are also times where schedule can be easily planned with adequate rest to connect with colleagues across different time zone.

Working remotely is the new norm. Traditional organisation and management will need to acknowledge and adapt to new way of working. If not, good resources will be lost to the new norms.

What IT Career do you want?

It is surprising to see that many do not know what is the IT role they are applying during a job interview. In a way, we should reflect and see how society have confused these younglings about IT careers in our education system.

Understand IT Career

Like all industry, IT are diverse and span many verticals and specialisations. Unfortunately, many have the misconception of labelling IT as a coder role or someone who works with computer. However, IT career is much more than that. It is common to see that most of us started off as either a technical role or functional one. Around 20% may cross both roles and become techno-functional . Some will specialise in a particular business domain while others focus in the IT aspects across different verticals. Although diversity is good in your early career, you should reach a steady state by your midlife.

Your Personality

A common question by freshie is how should you start IT career. Usually, I like to view the personality of the person to match the starting point. As an analogy, a good swimmer can never excel by starting on a running track. A technical role is often logical and suits more towards introverted personality. On the other hand, functional role rely more on the understanding of user behaviour and business processes. There is an emerging demand for techno-functional role. This role is the most challenging because you will need to leverage on your “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” personality.

What I mention is a simple quick way to evaluate and start your career. The better you understand your personality, the faster you have advantage on the starting point.

Smart Coding

Coding is not difficult to master if you are good at logic. However, how do you learn to code smarter than the rest of people? You can learn these tricks from my personal cookbook.

  1. The more you code, the shorter it gets.
  2. Simple logic works faster and more efficiently.
  3. Dare to rewrite and recode. Same rationale as point 1.
  4. If you find it hard to read, the computer will find it hard as well.
  5. Learn to understand the domain knowledge. This helps to select the right logic codes to fit task.
  6. If the decision making logic is more than 5 to 8. Consider to optimise it to reduce to 5.
  7. Speed is better than elegant codes. Users can feel the performance but cannot read how elegant is your coding.
  8. Know the cost of SQL. 1 long complex SQL is slower than few few simple ones.

It is good habit to know the timing of your codes. With practice, you will be smart to code for performance and maintainability.

What Coder you want?

We often review technical skillset for different projects. In our evaluation, we notice similarities in many candidates on their programming languages. So, how do you really differentiate what you want? I will liken coding to sport players at times. There are technical, flair or elegant coders similar to star players in a soccer team. The question is how to you spot this gems?

Quick Tips
  • Who are you looking for? A star player, coding machine, or a problem solver.
  • Set a benchmark on the types of resources.
  • Look for project trends and the role they play.
  • Ask specific scenario based questions to the role you want.

If you are a coder yourself, ask yourself which role you play best! The best fit will bring out your best performance. If you are hiring for one, what coder you need to make up the rest of your team?