Goodbye 2021

It was a quick year of 2021 due to COVID pandemic. There are so many strains of COVID that we are getting used to it. Notable mention are Delta and Omicron strain. As we say goodbye to 2021, I looked forward to a year of 2022 with less restrictions. It is also a year that we will expect with more “digital transformation”.

Roller Coaster 2021

2021 is a year of COVID roller coaster because of the impact of COVID variant and vaccines. It is a cat and mouse effects because vaccines are not a fail safe approach. The mindset to endemic is still far because of uncertainty. On the digital front, work from home remains default and IT is being spiked by the need of digitalisation. You can say that 2021 is a crossroads for digital transformation and transforming to Cloud. It will take a year or more for IT to fully aligned with business and be transformed.

2022 Realisation

Year 2022 will see many gaps created by digital transformation. As expected, many organisations started digital transformation without a holistic view from business. Like the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) era, digital transformation is viewed as IT implementation. It is Deja vu for many as we grapple with the disconnect of business and IT. Thus, I will expect to see increased hiring for “digital transformers” to help bridge the gaps.

As I see the last of 2021, the pace of digital transformation is liken to that of COVID. Uncertainty and risks are high because of many unknowns. However, it is a great year because this paves the way for 2022. I can see more exciting digitalisation ahead. It is up to organisations to grab the required resources with the mindset to bridge these gaps.

Why PM is Outdated

In the world of Agile, there is no PM (Project Manager) role. I have questioned on the relevance of PM in Agile project. With Agile gaining grounds, it is time to determine that PM role is outdated. These are reasons why you can run your Agile project without PM. To be specific, it is time to put a stop to freeloaders working as PM for Agile projects.

Why Agile Obsolete PM

In waterfall project, PM is required to work on project management e.g. schedule, scope. There is a lot of trackers to track schedule, gaps or issue logs. In contrast, Agile focus on self empowerment and self organising. There is no need for PM in this framework based on this key principles. You will not need a PM to chase or track after deliverables. As an analogy, waterfall is like a baby with constant minding from the guardian. Agile places the collective accountability to the Agile team.

Adaptability Outpace PM

A PM mainly function like an observer to the project. Monitoring and tracking does not provide the adaptability required by Agile. Often, PM is outpaced by Agile team. The additional communication layer of PM becomes redundant. Users or customers can work in close collaboration with Agile team. This is a key reason why Agile do not require PM. If you are running an Agile project, do expect to be frustrated by the placement of the PM.

It is time to realise that you no longer require PM for Agile projects. We should not continue to be in self denial mode to have this role for historical reasons. Agile team is highly independent to get things done and adapt quickly with users or customers.

P.S. Self declared PM continued to exist during digital transformation period. It is time to wake up and transform PM role as well!

Content Creation

A content creator is one of the sought after role in the year 2020s. Original ideas and thoughts can now be reach to greater audience all over the world. Explosions of social media have also fuelled the content creation to individual level. So, how do we get started?

Create What You Like

You are likely to start creating contents that you like. There are many social media who provided the platforms for content creation. There are also different media types like video or photos. While it is tempted to create content accordingly to trend, you may lose purpose as time passes. Thus, the best way to create content is to create what you like.

Be Yourself

As time goes by, you will be tempted and shaped by different environmental factors. Some could be sponsors that wanted you to promote certain products. You may also be compelled by comments and feedbacks. Although these can be negative or positive, the effects could shift your initial purpose of content creation. It is wise to be yourself and stay true to your content creation vision.

Content creation will be common task in near future. The content creation platform make it easy for anyone to submit original content. There will be temptations to deviate from your creation vision.However, you must create what you like and stay true to be yourself.

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.