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Author: Vince Veselosky

Take heed, managers: your “best practices” are killing your company

Take heed, managers: your “best practices” are killing your company

If you are a manager, you need to understand the ideas of W. Edwards Deming. Deming wrote several books about management, in which he chastised American business schools and American corporate management for perpetuating a failed philosophy and failed management techniques. Deming proposed a new philosophy of management motivated by quality and grounded in systems theory. The Deming philosophy is too deep, too broad, and too rich to be explained in a mere blog post. Volumes have been written about…

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Systems vs Habits: Why GTD Often Fails

Systems vs Habits: Why GTD Often Fails

In my previous post, I wrote about David Allen’s Getting Things Done book and productivity system. If GTD has a weakness, it is that, although the book describes the system very well, it does a poor job of describing the change of daily habits you’ll have to perform if you really want to implement the system. The major reason people fail at implementing a GTD-style productivity system in their lives is that, no matter how simple the system may be, it’s a big…

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Getting Things Done — Productivity System

Getting Things Done — Productivity System

David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is a phenomenon in the tech community. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already read the book, or at least know something about the productivity system that it defines. I read it years ago, but like many readers never put into practice more than a tiny portion of the system. As 2012 drew to a close and I looked back on all the things I meant to accomplish, I…

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How to set up a new PC in 12 Steps, or How I spent my evening renewing my disgust with Windows

How to set up a new PC in 12 Steps, or How I spent my evening renewing my disgust with Windows

Step 1: Spend 30 minutes unpacking boxes, peeling plastic, and connecting cables. Step 2: In breathless anticipation, press the power button. Step 3: Spend another 30 minutes hunting for the Windows Product Key so you can access the computer you just bought. Find it, finally, on an indelible sticker on the far side of the computer’s case. Step 4: Enlist an assistant to type the Windows Product Key while you hang upside down under the desk using a flashlight to…

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A Framework for Innovation

A Framework for Innovation

How does a large company create an environment that encourages and leverages internal innovation? Here is my checklist of prerequisites for “enterprise” innovation: Great people. You may think this goes without saying, but it cannot be emphasized enough. You cannot hire drones who put in 8 hours for a paycheck and then head out the door. You need passionate, creative people, people who love their work, people who are impatient with “getting by” and want to be the best at…

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Systems and Mental Deficiencies

Systems and Mental Deficiencies

I was surprised when I read some of the things writer Terry Pratchett wrote or said about developing PCA, a form of dementia. I cannot now find the original source that I read, but there are several similar articles. He described some symptoms of the disease slowly robbing him of his own mind. The inability to see certain objects when they are right in front of you. Walking into a room but having no memory of why you went there…

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Django Settings: Three Things Conflated

Django Settings: Three Things Conflated

If you work on a large Django project, there’s a good chance that you would describe your settings file as “a mess” (or perhaps you use harsher language). You may even have broken your settings out into a whole package with multiple files to try and keep things organized. We’re highly skilled and organized developers, how does this happen to us? I believe part of the problem is that the “settings” bucket holds three different kinds of things without differentiating between them….

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Heroku and the Twelve Factor App: Architecting for High Velocity Web Operations

Heroku and the Twelve Factor App: Architecting for High Velocity Web Operations

A while back I wrote that infrastructure should be delivered as code along with every web application, because web applications are not run by users, they are operated on behalf of users, and are therefore incomplete without the infrastructure needed to operate them. In that article, I mentioned Heroku, a platform-as-a-service company that makes a living operating other people’s web applications. Inspired by their experience in web operations, some of those folks recently wrote a guide to creating web applications that can…

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Natural Laws

Natural Laws

I figure any phrase that people deem to be a “law” and find important enough to attribute to a specific person (even if incorrectly) probably contains some real wisdom. Here’s a collection of Eponymous Laws from Wikipedia, all of which I have found to be true in my own experience. Amara’s Law: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run. Conway’s Law: Any organization that designs a system…

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Efficiency: Enemy of Innovation?

Efficiency: Enemy of Innovation?

The science of management in the industrial age was all about efficiency. It had to be. The whole concept of capitalism is based on efficiency. An entrepreneur acquires capital at a cost, and that capital must be made to produce profit at a rate higher than the cost of capital. If you borrowed money at 10% to start your business, you had to make it earn 11% at least. That meant controlling costs ruthlessly and milking every bit of productivity from…

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