Posted on

My personal quest for a UML diagramming tool

Guest post by A. Cranky, Old Man

tl;dr – I’m using Visual Paradigm.

When I needed a way to create a reasonably good-looking sequence diagram for a recent engagement, I was suprised to discover more than 80 diagramming tools on the market. Given such a large pool of candidates, I expected to find several good ones, and I embarked on my quest in hight spirits.

You’d think at my age I would know better.

I’m sure the issues with these tools can be resolved given a little patience and effort. After all, each of them has a satisfied user base out there somewhere.

However, my task at the moment was not to debug someone else’s installer or to chase down undocumented dependencies one by one hoping to get a product to start up, and I’m not interested in fighting with a user interface that makes producing a diagram so difficult it takes 50 times as long as it would have taken to spray paint it on the window of a subway car.

So if you feel inclined to respond to a comment about an issue with a statement like, “But I use this tool all the time, and it works great!” then let me take this opportunity to congratulate you before returning to reality.

The nature of the issues I encountered can be generalized as follows:

(1) The documentation, integrated help, and/or information on the website is incomplete, out of date, or poorly written, with the result that I could not see what to do with the product within a few seconds of reading. Ideally, no documentation would be necessary; products would install in an unsurprising way for each supported platform, and work intuitively for someone who is familiar with UML diagrams. In my humble, it shouldn’t be necessary to make a circle of candles on the floor and chant magic words in a dead language to summon a diagram.

(2) The product does not “just work.” You have to fart around with the installation, search for and install dependencies separately, and/or examine error logs to figure out why it will not run. Although I am qualified to do that kind of work, I am not looking for a diagramming tool because I’m keen to debug it. I’m looking for a diagramming tool because I need to draw a diagram. This seems to be a use case that didn’t occur to the developers of most of these tools. Software should be tested and packaged properly. There are fairly standard installers for Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X, and every flavor of Unix and Linux has a default package manager. Use them.

(3) The product is too “fancy.” It has multiple modes or styles or approaches to diagramming, and/or it assumes you intend to do a large-scale system design every time you open the tool, and makes it hard simply to draw a single diagram quickly. In some cases, I never even found the type of diagram I wanted to create amidst the numerous menus and appearing/disappearing palettes and what-not.

(4) The user interface is flakey and/or hard to use. You have to spend so much time fighting with the UI that it takes an hour to create a diagram that should have required three or four minutes to produce. I especially hated Creately, Lucidchart, UMLet, and Whitestar for this reason, but almost every product has this issue to an extent.

Here’s an alphabetical list of the products I tried. This is not a comprehensive list of UML diagramming tools. I didn’t try every available product. I stopped searching as soon as I found one that seemed usable.

Adobe Express

This is touted to be one of the best UML diagramming tools available. I was unable to locate an option to create any kind of UML diagram.


Does not start.


Requires entry of personal information before the user has a chance to try the product. That’s a non-starter.


I was unable to figure out what to do based on information provided on the site.


The user interface does not work. Often, an element does not “stick” to the canvas. When deleting an element, one often must delete it several times before it goes away (strangely, it’s not always the same number of times). Lines do not stay where you put them. Pure frustration with no added sweetener.


The installer appears to do nothing at all. No error messages, no spash screen, and no apparent result.


Appears to require a Confluence license and/or other Atlassian tools. I don’t want to install a whole raft of other tools or “sign up” for a bunch of services I don’t need just so I can draw a diagram. There’s no need for every tool to be fully integrated with “your team’s collaborative workflow.” Sometimes you just need a screwdriver for a minute. You don’t need the whole hardware store.


Packaging is crude and installation is a hassle. I abandoned it after wasting several precious, irreplaceable minutes of my life trying to get it to run.


Clumsy to use. Difficult to move endpoints and lines; the tool modifies the shape of the line instead of just moving it where you drag it. If you need to move an element, it’s much quicker to delete it and re-create it than to move it (and every time you do so, frustration mounts). End result looks crude; not visually appealing.


Does not start. Different problems on OS X and Windows, but the bottom line is it does not start. Can’t find this class, can’t find that class, not enough cache space, blah blah blah, not my problem, goodbye. And get off my lawn.


Can create an image file based on formatted text input. It works but the process is pretty tedious. It is unclear how to make practical use of the tool.


User interface is unusable. Elements disappear under the cursor when you hover; if you can grab an element to drag it, it often disappears before you can drop it. Elements placed on the canvas appear to be uneditable; at least, I was unable to figure out how.

Visual Paradigm Community Edition

Conventional Mac installer, no surprises, no failures. After using the tool for a few minutes, my impression was that it “understands” the elements of each diagram type. Unlike any other tool I tried, it seems to “know” what is meant by a line one draws in a particular context. Other tools just draw plain lines, and don’t seem to “know” what a line means in the context of any given diagram type. The UI “feels” solid – things don’t just disappear or fail to stick or fail to delete or slide around on the canvas. Will continue to work with this tool for a while and see how it goes.

Whitestar UML

Windows only, but at least the installer works and the product starts. The UI looks clean. I was unable to create a sequence diagram with this tool. The help says to click “Toolbox” and then “Sequence,” but there is no “Sequence” option. I tried working with another diagram type to see how the tool feels, and was disappointed. I was unable to draw a connector between two objects. The tool complains, “Connect objects exactly,” and never connects objects. Perhaps it is a kind of psychological experiment, to see how long people will keep trying to connect objects “exactly.”


Online comments are positive and the site looks nice. It appears to be an SDK only. I was never able to find any downloads or helpful instructions. Maybe it’s useful for people who need to embed drawing capabilities into other products. Just a guess. It’s hard to tell, really.

Posted on

Of Cockroaches and Kings

A recent toot on Mastodon reminded me of a phenomenon I believe is pretty common these days: An unusual event causes us to reconsider our habits and assumptions in some way.

The toot was this one from Benji Weber, posted on February 9, 2023:

The blog post he references is here: I Was Saved By Test Driven Development.

The toot and blog post explain what happened clearly enough; there’s no need to reiterate the details.

The angle I’d like to bring out is the pattern: We operate in domain X in a certain way based on our established habits and our assumptions about the best way to do X. Then something unexpected and/or unusual happens that causes our habitual way of doing X to be uncomfortable, clumsy, expensive, or unworkable. At that point we reconsider our habits and assumptions, and possibly change the way we do X.

In Benji’s story, the sleep deprivation he experienced during paternity leave followed him back to the office. He struggled to get work done using his habitual approach of keeping a lot of moving parts in his head. In a way, he was forced out of his comfort zone, and he sought a different way of working that would help him get things done.

His blog post describes test-driven development (TDD) as if it were something brand new that requires an explanation. As a long-time practitioner, that struck me as odd at first. There’s nothing new about TDD, and there’s no question of its value in our line of work.

Why is Benji late to the party in this regard? Because of longstanding habits and assumptions. His previous way of working served him well enough. When our current habits and assumptions aren’t causing us any grief, we don’t have a reason to pause and ask ourselves, “Hey, self! Why are we doing X in this particular way? Is there a better way?” Why would we do that, after all? We’re already busy, and nothing seems to be wrong anyway.

So, why am I suddenly rambling on about this so-called “pattern?” There’s a piece of conventional wisdom that says we tend to see whatever we’re looking for. We might not notice something that’s right under our noses if we aren’t aware of its existence, or if our habit is to focus on some other thing that’s also right under our noses. Once I perceived the pattern in several events of larger scope than software development, I started to notice it in other areas, as well. Now it’s hard for me to “unsee” it.

The Decline of Twitter

Twitter is a social media platform. The purpose of social media is to enable social interaction among friends, acquaintences, colleagues, and people who share an interest. But that is not the only reason we use the Internet. Most of us consume content of various kinds, from news to entertainment, or depend on the Internet as a kind of global library or encyclopedia. I learned how to install a ceiling fan from a video on YouTube, for example. We depend on the Internet for house-hunting when we need to relocate.

We learn new skills, read about history, study foreign languages, play games, follow our favorite sports teams and musical performers, monitor political developments, support social justice causes, raise funds for projects, discover information about things we didn’t know about, and do many other things besides interacting socially with our friends. Many of us create content we want to share or publish in some form. We also depend on the Internet for business and professional connections, and to find opportunities for work.

Each of these activities – call them “use cases,” if you will – is different and is supported by different online facilities and resources. Only a few of them amount to “social interaction.”

Like many others, I had gotten into the habit of using Twitter for every use case I have for the Internet. Relatively little of that involves social interaction. Yet, I channeled every online activity through Twitter.

Twitter is designed and operated in a way intended to lock our eyeballs in place. Until it became untenable, it was a difficult habit to break. Although I was aware that I was wasting a lot of time looking at Twitter, I didn’t pause to question the habit until the new owner wrecked the user experience altogether. Alongside many others, I looked for another place to “park” online.

In the process, I asked myself what I actually used Twitter for. I came up with a list of quite a few things, only one of which was social interaction. I realized that business contacts belong elsewhere – possibly on an interactive facility, but not on a social media platform as such. Twitter had become a haven for hate speech, and was no longer useful for social interaction.

And it was absolutely unnecessary for any other Internet use case. All the photos, videos, and articles people linked in their Tweets are already available elsewhere on the Internet, without exception. All the opportunities to make business contacts and promote ourselves professionally already exist elsewhere on the Internet, without exception.

But to shake us out of our comfort zone, an unusual event was required.

My guess is that millions of people were forced to pause and reconsider their Twitter habit after October 28, 2022.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the world made a faulty assumption – that Russia was ready to join the community of nations – and got into an unhealthy habit – engaging with Russia as if it were a member of the community of nations.

But Russia is still the same Russia it has been for the past 1,100 years. We have had ample time to observe their behavior and understand what they are. They reminded everyone of this when they invaded Ukraine in 2022. Some 40 million people in northern Africa and the Middle East went hungry when grain shipments from Ukraine and western Russia ceased. Europe suffered winter fuel shortages and crippling fuel costs. China worried that Russia might exhaust itself in the war and be unable to meet its contractual obligations to supply raw materials to the Chinese industrial machine.

And after Medvedev’s public statement that they wanted to see a Russian-controlled “zone” stretching from Lisbon, Portugal, to the Pacific Ocean, Russia’s neighbors began to worry they might be next in line after Ukraine, either for conquest (Finland, Sweden, etc.) or as a source of cannon fodder and resources without the option to say “no” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.).

As a result, people’s assumptions about Russia have changed. Rather than assuming Russia is “just another country,” other governments now understand Russia must be contained. And people’s habits about interacting with Russia have changed. European countries are rapidly moving away from dependency on Russia for oil and gas – even if that means re-instituting coal and nuclear facilities in the short term. African countries are starting agricultural programs to establish independence in food production. They are also expanding trade to include more food-exporting countries as a way to spread their risk – Uruguay, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.

Cooperation with Russia in scientific ventures by countries like the US, Japan, Australia, and South Korea are now closely monitored and controlled. Countries that desire good relations with Russia – notably China and India – are increasing diplomatic activity with Russia; not because they approve of the atrocities in Ukraine, but as a way to prevent the situation from spinning out of control. A large-scale war would not serve their interests. They recognize that even if their goals are aligned with Russia’s from time to time, Russia will never be a reliable ally or “friend” in any sense.

The reason this is an example of the pattern is that nothing about Russia has actually changed. The day before the invasion they were exactly the same Russia as they are today. The invasion caused the rest of us to pause and reconsider our assumptions and habits about Russia.

But there is really nothing “new” here – in the same way that Twitter was already not the best or only way to use the Internet, and keeping a lot of moving parts in your head was already not the best or only way to develop and support software, Russia was already Russia.

The Pandemic Lockdown

The Coronavirus pandemic had a wide range of damaging effects on the world. One of those has been a sea change in the way most Western people perceive their relationship with their employers.

Even white-collar workers and professionals have long been treated, in effect, as wage slaves by large corporations. The game has been to keep us living at a financial level that was just sufficient for a reasonable degree of material comfort, but not so secure that we would feel confident enough to walk away from a negative work experience. They wanted us to remain just one or two paychecks away from living on the street.

Blue-collar workers had it worse. Employers restricted their hours to a level below the government-mandated minimum for benefits, forcing people to work multiple jobs with no benefits in order to make ends meet.

It was Brave New World as opposed to 1984. Mass entertainment media were our soma.

Today, corporations have started to complain about the fact many white-collar workers don’t want to return to the status quo ante. They prefer working remotely whenever it makes sense. Many jobs really don’t have to be done in an office, thanks to the Internet. People also resist traditional full-time employment, preferring a “gig” style of engagement with the job market. It gives individuals more control over their own time and lives. And that’s the last thing big corporations want people to have.

Similarly, skilled blue-collar workers have taken charge of their own time. They pick and choose clients and assignments, set their own prices, and take time off when they want to. They sign work agreements directly with the end customers of their skilled services, rather than working on an hourly basis for a service company that rakes in all the profit and keeps the workers worried about layoffs.

The only segment of the workforce that is still at a disadvantage are unskilled blue-collar workers. In a society that doesn’t value people for their own sake, like that of the United States, they will always face challenges because they have no marketable skills; they are just muscle.

These societal changes reflect the same pattern – an unusual event caused people to pause and reconsider their assumptions and habits regarding work and employment.

There’s nothing “new” here. The old way of working was already not optimal for workers.

The Global Supply Chain

Possibly the largest-scale example of the pattern is the disruption of the global supply chain due to the pandemic lockdowns.

Just prior to the start of the pandemic, the entire world was organized more-or-less as a single factory. There was one supply chain worldwide. It was optimized for efficiency, low cost, and just-in-time delivery at each stage.

What enabled such a system in the first place? It was a program of international cooperation dictated by the United States in the 1940s at a large meeting of international representatives at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The US was emerging as the sole growth-generating economic engine in the world – the only major economic power still standing at the end of World War II.

The US did two things nobody expected. First, they offered to purchase whatever other countries could manage to produce, as a way of helping them restart their national economies. Second, they took on the responsibility of protecting global shipping lanes, using the US Navy to suppress piracy – without regard to whether the ships they protected belonged to a friendly or unfriendly country.

No one was in a position to force the US to do these things. The US could have dictated any terms it wished at the end of the war. No one else had the resources or the will to fight any longer. That’s why it surprised so many people. Instead of taking advantage of the relative weakness of other countries, they helped rebuild – including their World War II adversaries. And they did it in a way that made war unnecessary for countries to access the resources they needed to run their economies.

The Bretton Woods system allowed countries to cooperate instead of competing for access to resources and markets. And cooperate they did. With the US Navy standing guard over shipping, the international community created a single global supply chain that operated on a just-in-time basis.

It worked well – provided nothing ever went wrong. That proved to be a major caveat. Everyone’s national economies were optimized for low cost and efficiency, and not for resiliency.

We got a taste of the fragility of the system when the container ship Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal. (Here’s a BBC report about the incident.) The blockage stalled about 12% of global shipping for a time.

The Suez Canal blockage wasn’t enough to cause international decision-makers to question their assumptions or change their habits; but the combined effects of the economic slowdown due to pandemic lockdowns and the interruption of food and fuel shipments due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine were enough.

Individual countries have been working to make themselves more independent and make their economies more resilient. The United States, for its part, no longer gains much value from the Bretton Woods system, and additionally it seems to be coming apart at the seams from within as Americans turn against each other in a way that appears irreversible and irreconcilable. Lacking a sense of unity, Americans will have no shared concept of national vested interest, and therefore will not support the cost of protecting global shipping.

Should the US be called upon to defend Taiwan against China, it will do so and it will prevail, but only at high cost. The most optimistic simulations have the US losing hundreds of ships and aircraft and thousands of hard-to-replace personnel, such as jet pilots. It may no longer have sufficient naval power to patrol the world’s shipping lanes, even if doing so were still in its interest.

The emerging world order requires different habits in the area of international trade. Costs will be higher as each country has to defend its own ships, as was always the case prior to Bretton Woods. Countries that seem to be peaceful just now may be at war once again, trying to gain access to each other’s resources, when no one guarantees such access. Each country must find ways to feed its own people – the assumption that they can rely on imports must change.

These changes in habits and assumptions are of much larger scope than the changes Benji writes about in his blog post, but they are an example of exactly the same pattern – an unexpected event forces people to reconsider their habits and assumptions. And just as with the previous examples, there’s nothing really “new” here – it was already a bad idea to build an international economic system that lacked resiliency.

Of Cockroaches and Kings

Today’s world faces a number of problems. The most serious of these is climate change. Recent information about the effects suggests the speed of climate change is increasing. Earlier estimates gave us a few decades to reverse or stabilize the changes, but now it seems as if significant effects will occur within a single decade, and nothing humans are capable of doing can stop them, even if we tried. And we aren’t trying.

Even so, decision-makers in leading governments and corporations continue to behave the same way as they did a century ago. They seem oblivious to the danger.

Are they really oblivious, or are they simply following established habits based on conventional assumptions? What sort of event might shake them out of their comfort zone?

I’m reminded of something that happened in our kitchen when I was a child. We were poor, and lived in low-income housing. A common feature of low-income housing is that the buildings are infested with cockroaches. Whenever we entered the kitchen at night and switched on the light, cockroaches scurried away as quickly as they could.

For some time, we were unable to locate their nest. One day, I picked up the small electric clock we kept on the kitchen counter. Beneath it was a clump of cockroaches. They established their base of operations under the clock, possibly because it was warm and vibrated slightly.

We were able to eliminate the nest entirely, with ease. The animals did not run away. They just stood there, waving their antennae. They were already in their safe haven. They had no idea what to do differently, once the clock was moved. The fact it was a matter of life or death for them didn’t matter. They were unable to change their habits.

So they died.

I have to wonder if the big decision-makers of the world are clustered together in their traditional mental safe haven, unable to change their habits even when they can smell the cold, stale breath of Death in their faces.


So, yeah, it’s cool that Benji has discovered TDD. It’s a pretty useful approach to software development.

Posted on

The THX 1138 Rule

In the 1971 movie THX 1138, George Lucas’ first feature film, the title character gets in trouble with the law when he gets his girlfriend, LUH 3417, pregnant. In the highly regimented society in which they live, relationships like theirs are illegal. The authorities throw him in jail and redesignate LUH 3417 so he can’t find her again.

THX 1138, along with a couple of other escapees from jail, look for a way out of the subterranean complex where their society lives. Ultimately, THX 1138 is the last of the escapees still at large. The robot cops try to convince him to return with them, but he refuses. When the pursuit exceeds 6% of the budget allocation for chasing escapees, they let him go and he reaches the surface.

The question you may be asking is, “What does that have to do with anything?”

Continue reading The THX 1138 Rule

Posted on

Where to Find Prominent Voices in Software Other Than Twitter

Where to Find Prominent Voices in Software Other Than Twitter

Updated 6 Nov 22

Thousands of thoughtful and experienced software professionals use Twitter to share information and interact with one another. We’ve come to depend on Twitter as a source of information and interaction with colleagues.

With the recent changes at Twitter, many users are looking for alternative social media platforms. But many of us hesitate to “leave” Twitter because that’s where we find industry leaders in the software field, and we don’t want to miss out on what they have to teach us.

The most well-known of these typically use Twitter mainly as a publishing platform and for “reach” rather than for socializing. Therefore, our experience with them consists of reading whatever they post and following links to other Internet sites to read their articles and blog posts; listen to their podcasts; and watch their videos, conference talks, and interviews.

In other words, it isn’t a social relationship, but rather a producer-consumer relationship. For example, some industry leaders write article-length pieces in the form of tweet threads. This is a poor user experience for the consumer. True, there are some ways to improve the experience – through third-party services like ThreadReaderApp, for instance – but still, a social media platform isn’t optimized for that use case.

We can get the same value by visiting people’s sites directly, with no dependency on Twitter. If some of us happen to know some of these individuals, we can connect on other social media platforms. We need not depend on Twitter as the primary contact point. It has been convenient, so we have developed the habit of using Twitter.

If we change our habits in this way, what might we lose? It occurs to me that Twitter functions as a kind of notification system. When someone has a conference talk, training class, or event coming up, or they have just published a new article, book, podcast, or video, they announce it on Twitter. We don’t have to remember to go and visit their sites to find out what’s on their calendars, or what new information they have published. I suspect this notification function will be the hardest thing to replace.

People also tweet when they are looking for work, or looking for employees. There are other sites whose main mission is work-related connections, and they may provide better support for those needs.

This post offers a woefully incomplete list of leaders in the software field whom you may have been following on Twitter, and whom you don’t want to lose track of as things change. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked someone who should be listed.

Adkins, Lyssa (@lyssaadkins)

Bache, Emily (@emilybache)

Beck, Kent (@KentBeck)

Belshee, Arlo (@arlobelshee)

Benson, Jim (@ourfounder)

Booch, Grady (@Grady_Booch)

Brown, Simon (@simonbrown)

Burrows, Mike (@asplake)

Cockburn, Alistair (@TotherAlistair)

Dinwiddie, George (@gdinwiddie)

Falco, Llewellyn (@LlewellynFalco)

Farley, Dave (@davefarley77)

Feathers, Michael (@mfeathers)

Fowler, Martin (@martinfowler)

Gee, Trisha (@trisha_gee)

Glazer, Hillel (@hi11e1)

Gottesdiener, Ellen (@ellengott)

Gregory, Janet (@janetgregoryca)

Grenning, James

Hammant, Paul (@paul_hammant)

Hendrickson, Chet (@chethendrickson)

Henney, Kevlin (@KevlinHenney)

Hightower, Kelsey (@kelseyhightower)

Hill, Michael “GeePaw” (@GeePawHill)

Jeffries, Ron (@RonJeffries)

Jones, Angie (@techgirl1908)

Kerievsky, Joshua (@JoshuaKerievsky)

Kern, Jon (@JonKernPA)

Kua, Pat (@patkua)

Langr, Jeff (@jlangr)

Marick, Brian (@marick)

Morgan, Jeff “Cheezy” (@chzy)

Ottinger, Tim “Agile Otter” (@tottinge)

Patton, Jeff (@jeffpatton)

Perri, Melissa (@lissijean)

Rainsberger, J.B. (@jbrains)

Rothman, Johanna (@johannarothman)

Schwaber, Ken (@kschwaber)

Shah, Binni (@binitamshah)

Shore, James (@jamesshore)

Sutherland, Jeff (@jeffsutherland)

Wake, Bill (@wwake)


Posted on

Key Skills for Software Development

If you understand how these things relate to software development work, then you require no training or coaching.


Handling stress and working with others requires self-awareness and emotional control. All the skills listed here also require self-awareness and emotional control.

Learning How to Learn

It is widely agreed that software development teams are either improving mindfully, or they are deteriorating in their effectiveness. There is no steady state. To make improvement possible, team members must be open to learning new things and willing to question things they already know.


To achieve anything, you must focus on it. That means uninterrupted time to think and work. It means finishing one thing before starting another. It means not getting distracted. It means keeping your eyes on the goal and not on dwelling on the difficulties.


Overcoming challenges and meeting objectives requires persistence. Embracing change to improve our work requires persistence.


In almost all cases, software development work benefits from collaboration between two or more people. “The more you share, the more your bowl will be plentiful.” – James S.A. Corey, The Expanse.


Effective collaboration requires trust and the courage to be seen as vulnerable or imperfect.


Leadership doesn’t mean giving orders. It means giving credit, giving time, giving space, giving encouragement, giving opportunity, giving trust. The more you give, the more you get.


A steady, predictable, consistent, and sustainable pace of work helps ensure continuous flow, maximize delivery effectiveness, and minimize team stress.

Technical Skills

The field of software is constantly changing. Software architecture, design patterns, programming paradigms, methods and schools of testing, of analysis, and other areas, design principles, development practices, automation, operations, and everything else is a moving target. To get started in this field, you need basic education/training in analysis, programming, and testing, and the non-technical skills listed above so that you will have the ability to keep yourself current with technical advances and to collaborate with and learn from your colleagues.

Without the basic training, you will have no foundation to build on. It would be like trying to run a foot race on top of loose ice floes on water. The general discussion of what skills are necessary tends to emphasize the non-technical side of things; don’t take that to mean there are short-cuts on the technical side. The reason for the emphasis is that the non-technical skills have been underappreciated in the past. On the other hand, don’t worry if you feel as if there’s too much to learn. Once you have the basics, you can build on that knowledge little by little.

Posted on

What’s our focus for improvement?

Here’s a story.

A development team was thrashing as they attempted to use Scrum to help them build a new application. They had numerous defects, some of which escaped to production and others that were caught within each Sprint. Many defects they thought they had fixed popped up again in production.

Their stakeholders had high expectations, as the team’s velocity was high. After several Sprints, it became clear they were not going to deliver all the planned features by the defined deadline. The news came as a surprise to stakeholders.

Continue reading What’s our focus for improvement?

Posted on

What if people always spoke the way they do at work?

I’ve noticed in many business meetings, and especially presentations, people use highly stilted, quasi-academic language. They may have useful things to say, and a pleasant, cultured voice to say them with, but the language leads me to wonder why people think they have to sound academic at work, and whether they would speak that way normally in any other context.

I mean, if they think it makes them sound smart at work, wouldn’t they want to sound smart all the time? Who wouldn’t, right?

Continue reading What if people always spoke the way they do at work?

Posted on

How we think about recruiting

There’s an odd situation in the software industry. Employers are adamant that they can’t find suitable talent to fill the technical jobs they have. Job candidates are adamant that they can’t find suitable work. It seems strange to me that both these things are true at the same time.

Many people have opinions and observations about this. Often, they cite academic studies, industry surveys, formal management models, psychology, and various other things that are confusing for a Bear of Very Little Brain like me. I wonder if we could go a long way toward solving this problem if we ajusted, just slightly, the way we think about what we’re aiming to accomplish, on the hiring side and on the job search side.

Continue reading How we think about recruiting