Software innovation management: reboot required?

Why is innovation so difficult in the software industry?

In an interesting take on Google and its innovation, or lack of it, Robert Scoble provides an insight into Google’s manifestation of a very important issue for all organisations: their management of innovation.

Much of his explanation and diagnosis rings true. However, many of the proposed remedies, in his article and in the comments on it, do not.

This is, of course, not an issue which is specific to the software industry. There are many similar issues and examples of both less and more innovative organisations in other industries. Continue reading “Software innovation management: reboot required?”

Is “IT” “in denial”?!

Wow, the big picture of the IT world seems to be crumbling with increasing rapidity! Many people are at risk of getting hurt if they continue to hold traditional attitudes.

The post “Why the New Normal Could Kill IT” captures it well.

Thomas Wailgum provides an insightful description of the challenges facing the important operational aspects of IT in many organizations. Many of the symptoms and some of the causes that he describes are undoubtedly true and have been adversely affecting the performance of many people for a long time!

But, who really cares? Continue reading “Is “IT” “in denial”?!”

Less is more!

There seems to be an upsurge of interest in the philosophy of “less is more”. A couple of recent articles about product design, in general and in a specific case, address relevant aspects of this phenomenon.

What do we know?

On one level, we tend to question: how can “less” be “more”? We know it makes no sense! This is true: it really does not make any sense, if all that we focus on is measurable, countable, sequencable information – the kind of information understood by the “left side” of our brains.

On a different level, we know that “less” really is “more”. Less complexity is more simplicity and fun; less distraction is more concentration; and so on. This makes sense when we are thinking about the whole picture – the kind of information which is handled by the “right side” of our brains.

At the moment and on this topic, there is a specific product which is exercising the minds of people who follow these things. Continue reading “Less is more!”

Social communication is with us

The technology of communication devices, systems, services  has changed over the years. There have been telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and a variety of others. The characteristics of each technology have dictated the behavioural model of the systems and the services available to users.
With the advent of the internet, systems have tended to emulate traditional models: bulletin boards, post (email), with the web being based on a well-known “request-response” model until relatively recently.
But, now,  the gloves are coming off! People are building software-based communication services to provide whatever behavioural model they choose; consider, for example, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and there will be many, many more.
So far, their matching of the models to any specific requirements has been very loose. They build something and then figure out what people use it for!
There is an opportunity to get serious now: to decide whatever experience we want users to have; to design it and build it. Then to iterate models based on live tracking of actual scenarios. This is potentially very big … and keep half an eye on “augmented reality”.

A better Java programming course?

Questions, questions!

What would a better training course be like?

In what ways would it differ?

For whom would it be better?

How would we know that it is better?

What would we measure?

Better for learners and providers

In general, whatever you are learning, all of these questions might be important to you. To a large extent, the answers depend on your needs and on the structure of the subject area. So, more specifically, my interest is in the answers in the case of learning to use a programming language.

In talking to potential partners who would like to be able to deliver a course on Java programming, I am struck by the absence of any discussion of what might make a course better than other courses. Naturally, there is discussion about the course being “better” for the training provider.

But in the end, the needs of the learner will surely dominate. So, of course, “better” must mean better in the eye of the beholder, who is ultimately the learner, although there may be two or more layers in between.

What is needed?

Having spent hundreds of hours training people in Java programming, it is clear to me that there is more than one way to approach the subject. Having spent hundreds more hours training people in object-oriented design for implementation in Java, it is also clear to me that the most generally used approach does not work at all well.

People who have completed a Java course, apparently without undue difficulty, can frequently manage to avoid understanding some important concepts.

So, a few years ago, I set out to do better. The resulting course has been the subject of my thoughts, from time to time, ever since.  It seems to stand the test of time.

Improving the sequence!

For the Java programming course in question, I have modified the sequence in ways that are mostly subtle, but not always! As you may know, this is consistent with my belief that the sequence is the foundation of learning anything.

When the course is available, we can discuss the specific differences from a more normal sequence. But, in the meantime, I am thinking about what might be expected  by learners and others, and about whether further changes are also possible.

Social relationship management

So Twitter and LinkedIn are interconnecting. What is the background to this and where is it leading?


Twitter seems to have caught many people’s mindshare because it is fundamentally different from most other services; its asymmetric “follower” relationship is more complex and flexible than simple connections on LinkedIn or friends on Facebook. Other services are now following(!). Continue reading “Social relationship management”

Learning and social networks

My interest in learning, and in the ways in which we can enable it, makes conversations like this really interesting.

This is my (very rapidly composed) take on it. I write it here because my intended comment in that conversation grew in size so fast that, before I could get it out, it seemed to have become too large for a comment; that, also says something about the medium/channel communication!

So here goes … Continue reading “Learning and social networks”

Architectural advice

O’Reilly are publishing a new book “97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know”. This caught my attention for a variety of reasons. One is an interest in trying to get to the bottom of what the issues commonly labelled as “software architecture” are really all about! Another reason is that there are a couple of contributions from Kevlin Henney, with whom I have worked and who frequently comes up with a “different take” on any situation. Continue reading “Architectural advice”