Management tip: Assume Nothing

Management tip: Assume Nothing

Today’s tip may sound obvious but you must train yourself to live by the principle ‘Assume Nothing’ because it’s so easy to drop into lazy thinking and miss something important.

Listen for people including ‘should’ in explanations. This is often a giveaway that they don’t know for sure and is a prompt for a good Project Manager or Analyst to get the detail checked.

In systems and business analysis there is a related principle of ‘go and see for yourself’.

If you are ultimately accountable for the successful outcome of a business process go and do a walkthrough with the staff who do the job day to day and hear directly what they have to say.

In all my years I’ve never found this to be anything but beneficial and a good use of time. At the very least the staff will welcome being consulted directly.

Management tip: You have to make mistakes

Management tip: You have to make mistakes

Think carefully for a moment and ask yourself, when was the last time you made a mistake? Be honest with yourself and think hard about this.  

If you can’t remember the last time you made a mistake, then you have essentially stopped learning and you are playing things too safe.  Maybe that’s because you are in an environment where any mistake, however, small would be seen as a failure and would put your job at immediate risk. If that’s the case then, to be honest, I don’t blame you. If that is the case you should really ask yourself if you want to be subjecting yourself to such a negative and toxic environment.

As a manager, you need to carefully think through how you respond to one of your team making a mistake. Some mistakes can be horrible in the moment and may cost your company thousands of pounds to recover from. When someone makes a mistake, what do you do? Fire the person on the spot? Ideally no, think of it as expensive training. Would you fire someone who has just been on an expensive training course?

I’ve seen teams bond and build strength from mistakes, sometimes the recovery from a mistake can really bring people together.

In reality, most mistakes are fine so long as you review them in an open and honest way afterwards and capture the learning for the individuals involved and the company. Doing this well is a sign of a mature and high performing organisation.

If the same mistake is being made, time and time again then either the review and learning process is failing or there is something else happening with the individuals concerned which will need deeper review. As a manager however if the same mistake keeps happening are you sure you have captured and applied the learning correctly and fully? 

These days if you don’t make a few mistakes and find your edge and push your boundaries on a regular basis you are damaging your career development and not serving your business and customers longer-term best interests.  

Think for a moment about babies and young children, they learn to walk by lifting themselves up, taking a few steps, getting their balance wrong and learning from this. They fall over, they hurt themselves and pick themselves up and they learn to walk, then they learn to run and for some, they go on to run marathons and win races.  

The skill is knowing when to take a little risk in a safe environment and when it is necessary to absolutely get something right the first time.  I recently heard one business coach say you should be making a mistake a third of the time. I’m not sure I’d ever recommended going that far as you may end up burning too much credibility and it’s still important to be seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’, you’ll have to find a balance that’s right for you.

If you really struggle to think of the last time you made a mistake, it’s safe to say you need to relax, find your edge and learn something new. 


Management tip for November 4th 2019

Here’s a saying which has been proven to be correct time and time again.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are probably right.

This is the importance of confidence and self belief. Just be careful not to become complacent.

Tech thoughts for June 16th 2018 & TIM WOODS

Tech thoughts for June 16th 2018 & TIM WOODS

  1. Docker and Kubernetes: Major software vendors are now using Docker and .  Kubernetes is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. This means that you don’t need VMWare and probably won’t need Linux or Windows licences. Vendors ship their software in Docker contains which are preloaded, preconfigured with Ubuntu and all the software stack. The host is controlled by Kubernetes.   This is a great way to roll out patches. One speaker from IBM claimed that they can now patch complex systems in minutes rather than hours. RedHat have OpenShift which is an alternative to Kubernetes.
  2. GDPR: 80% of companies don’t think they will be fully GDPR complaint before the end of 2018 – it’s a long journey and to a large extent it’s never complete and has to become Business As Usual.
  3. Compressing time to value“, this can be achieved through Self Service Applications and Automation.
  4. Continual Touch“, this is a business model objective where you try to be constantly working in partnership with your customer to provide a service. It’s an extension of cloud and SaaS (annuity model hosting).
  5. TIM WOODS“, I’ve read a lot on Lean-Agile over the years but somehow this brilliant acronym hadn’t come to my attention. It spells out the areas where waste happens in a business.T – Transport – Moving people, products & information
    I – Inventory – Storing parts, pieces, documentation ahead of requirements
    M – Motion – Bending, turning, reaching, lifting

    W – Waiting – For parts, information, instructions, equipment
    O – Over production – Making more than is IMMEDIATELY required
    O – Over processing – Tighter tolerances or higher grade materials than are necessary
    D – Defects – Rework, scrap, incorrect documentation
    S – Skills – Underutilizing capabilities, delegating tasks with inadequate training

  6. Security concepts – “Session Break” and “Secure Proxy”: These are useful concepts for keeping backend systems secure. Session Break means that a process can’t talk directly end to end to achieve a given outcome. For example, a customer might place an order via a website. Instead of having the website write the order directly to the fulfilment system it places an XML or JSON representation of the order on a file server. An entirely separate process then picks up any new order files.  This helps protect the backend fulfilment database as the web application doesn’t have any access to that database.  Secure Proxy is similar, it means that external users login to an application using a  set of user credentials that are only valid on the proxy itself. The proxy then forwards requests to the backend or maps the external user to an internal user. This again protects the backend application.

Cracking the Coding Interview, 6th Edition: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

By Gayle Laakmann McDowell published by CareerCup

This looks like a really useful book for new developers attending job interviews. I think it’s also useful if you are responsible for recruiting and interviewing developers.  I wouldn’t suggest using any of the examples given in this book in an actual interview for obvious reasons but having seen the style you can create your own similar questions.  In my experience if you do this then it’s essential to test the questions on a few of your existing developers to benchmark the questions and see what good looks like.

Cracking the Coding Interview, 6th Edition: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions
At £25.36 it looks expensive but if it helps you get a top developer job or recruit a good developer instead of an average developer it will pay back within minutes.
My interview advice for those attending and running interviews is always to relax and try and enjoy the experience. It’s a chance to learn about other people and other companies and learn from their experience even if you are initially unsuccessful.
If you have any great example Developer Interview questions or you’ve been asked a tough question that you are not sure of the answer to leave it in a comment below and I’ll try and give you some feedback on it.

Click here to view this on
Price: £25.36

Minutes Template UK?

Integrated meeting minutes and agenda template.

Integrated meeting minutes and agenda template.

One of my most popular blogs last year was my UK Minutes Template.  At the time I just wrote about a Minutes Template that I’ve used a lot over the years but I’ve got lots more examples that may be more appropriate to different styles of meeting.  Over the coming weeks I plan to compile a few more example templates for meeting minutes and write a follow-up blog.  I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got a great meeting minutes template that you’d like to share.  I’m happy to edit any templates you send over to remove company details and make them generic.

I’d also love to know what formats best suit people, I’m assuming Microsoft Word but may be people are increasingly using Apple Pages or Google Docs.