Posted on December 24th, 2011 at 3:43pm in Business
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Early in the summer, while I was on vacation, I dug into the book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It. As my review post stated, I quickly was excited by the concept, and fully agreed that Results-Only Work Environment was the way work was meant to be.
Then I returned to work.
I brought back the excitement of my reading with me, and shared the core tenets of the ROWE with a number of my coworkers, encouraging them to read Why Work Sucks as well. Unfortunately neither I nor the supervisors in my team are in a position where we can begin the ROWE transition for the whole organization, but we did talk about how we could begin to move in that direction, at least within our own team, and that was encouraging.
Shortly after I returned from my vacation, my coworker Krista began working remotely full-time. I remember discussing the idea with her and our supervisor. Looking back, I see how the traditional work environment was so ingrained in me.
You see, even though I am a young 28, and I’ve only been out of college for 4 years, as I read through Why Work Sucks, my views on work were still challenged. One might think that me, coming from a younger generation of workers, might be more naturally inclined to the ROWE, but at least for me, that wasn’t entirely the case. I found myself wondering about the possibilities for making sure my soon-to-be remote coworker got enough “face time” and that we had multiple ways to contact her.
Apparently my laziness in finishing this post has paid off. Now I can give a bit of a before and after picture all together.
Months later, my coworker been working remotely just fine. I’ve also started working remotely three days a week, and several others have started working remotely more often as well. Our team has adapted well to it, and to a more ROWE-ish environment. Obviously, remote working arrangements aren’t the same as a fully ROWE organization, but we’ve certainly moved more in the direction of ROWE than a traditional telecommuting setup. Granted, we still have corporate red-tape holding us back, but our supervisors are great about staying within the traditional corporate rules, without following them to the letter, allowing us the freedom to work the way we work best. We still have a 9 to 5 schedule, but if we need to take time to take care of something else, it’s not a big deal at all. We don’t count the minutes away and make up for them. We just do what we need to do, and make sure our work gets done.
Unfortunately, just this small change has also shown how much sludge exists. We’re not even fully ROWE, and those outside of our department are quick to blame our different working environment for issues when they come up. It’s frustrating to hear and recognize the comments, but for me it’s been a challenge to find out how we can provide the level of service we need to to offer while maintaining the flexibility to work the way we want to work.
Over the past 8 months, I’ve gone from being totally inspired by Jessica Lawrence‘s talk at SXSW, to slightly skeptical about how the ROWE could apply in my own workplace, and full circle back. I’m a believer now, and I’m seeing a glimmer of hope as my coworkers grasp on to the freedom we all want and deserve in our work life and work to respect each other’s control over their own time. I think my idea of management has changed as well, and I’ve purposefully tried to apply the same principles as I run Conflux Group as well. I look forward to seeing my work environments evolve even further in the months to come.
Posted on June 8th, 2011 at 9:21pm in Business
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This year at South by Southwest, I attended a session called Rebel in a Polyester Sash: Rehabbing Corporate Culture (you can listen on the SXSW site and I encourage you to do so), given by Jessica Lawrence, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council in California.
As I sat in the session, I was impressed and taken aback by the ideas she presented about a Results-Only Work Environment. As I spend my days working in an old, mid-sized nonprofit organization, I have experienced first-hand many of the spirit-crushing realities of these types of organizations and identified immediately with Jessica as she spoke about how the Girl Scouts were when she came on board and later became CEO.
The core changes that Jessica implemented were from the book, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. After returning home, I purchased several copies of the book and distributed them to some of my coworkers, but I had yet to actually begin reading it for myself. I was excited to get started, but wasn’t able to find the time to get into it.
Last week, as I started my two-week vacation at the beach, I brought Why Work Sucks with me and began to read it. I’m about half way through now, and I’m encouraged by the ideas Cali and Jody present. While at first the ROWE sounds like a dream state that can only be realized by Silicon Valley startups and freelancers, they present lots of evidence and experience from their work at Best Buy, where they devised the Results-Only Word Environment and brought it to fruition in the Best Buy corporate headquarters.
I’m excited to keep reading through the book and hopefully work to implement the ROWE at least in my own business and possibly in the nonprofit where I spend my days.
For now, I’d definitely encourage you to check out Jessica’s session, get a copy of Why Work Sucks and also visit GoROWE.com for more information.
As I’ve said on Twitter before, thanks so much for the inspiration Jessica and also for all the hard work Cali and Jody put into shaping and articulating the ROWE.
Posted on October 28th, 2010 at 7:21pm in Business
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I started writing a comment on Phil Sturgeon’s blog post from yesterday, but as my comment grew longer and longer, I felt that it would be better presented as a post on my own blog. I would encourage you to read the post and the comments that follow before diving into my post here, as the context will be valuable in understanding my response.
Also before I move into my commentary, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am encouraged by some of the conversation that has taken place since the initial outcry. Things are certainly not resolved yet, but I do see a glimmer of hope.
I must say I was taken aback by some of the responses early on to Phil’s post. The negativity from both sides was disheartening, and I know this was not Phil’s intent.
I for one am a huge fan of CodeIgniter, and I know that many of the developers in the CI are as well. I do share in the frustration and disappointment that many others express, though, but it’s only in hopes of seeing change. If I had already lost all hope in the product, I would have abandoned ship much earlier on, and I wouldn’t be writing this response. I think that’s the sentiment that Phil shared as well, though it may not have been taken that way.
Our desire is not to jump ship, but instead to see continued awesomeness from the framework we’ve all loved for so long.
The one thing I wish could be clarified from all the commentary, especially that from those who work at EllisLab is this:
We’ve consistently heard that EllisLab invested lots of money in a framework that doesn’t make them a dime. We know you’ve invested heavily in the framework. And we’re VERY grateful for that. But why ISN’T it making you money?
But, it’s the second part of that I guess I don’t fully understand. I don’t see why EllisLab does not draw value from their open source offering. Why is CodeIgniter CHARITY and not indirect PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?
As a business owner myself, doing something for the good of the cause is great, but not if it’s going to be a hindrance to my bottom line. That why I wouldn’t create a free product just to be a good will offering, something that I wouldn’t use myself. I would create a product that I use myself to better my business AS WELL as the community. The thing is, companies have made millions of dollars from their products that are based on open source projects that they sponsor.
Of course I don’t understand the inner workings of the company, but from my perspective, investing in CodeIgniter does not take away resources from your commercial offering. On the contrary, I would hope that every feature added to the framework by the community would be code that you can use as you develop ExpressionEngine, perhaps even eventually REDUCING development costs for ExpressionEngine. It’s an indirect connection, but for me it’s simple to see.
My conclusion is simple. I love CodeIgniter and I love ExpressionEngine. I’m an active user of both, on almost every project I do. I want to see the best for both.
It’s not and easy road or a short one, but in the end, I think the only way that you can successfully foster both communities is to put your FAITH in CodeIgniter, not just as charity, but as a core for ExpressionEngine. Set a roadmap that supports your ExpressionEngine roadmap. Let the community contribution help you be even more successful than you already are with fewer resources.
You have two great products, but one is always going to suffer if you don’t allow them support eachother in a much greater way than they already do.
Thank you for reading. And I do hope that you can see the positive mindset I have on this issue. This post is not here to spawn further attacks, but rather to catalyze EllisLab to re-envision their products in a way that benefits THEM and the COMMUNITY.
Posted on August 14th, 2010 at 1:47pm in Business
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As one of the developers of MojoAddons, along with Zack Kitzmiller, Phil Sturgeon, Dan Horrigan and Tom Myer, we’ve banded together to provide much-needed functionality to extend the MojoMotor platform.
I’ve noticed two threads of discussion happening surrounding the addons we’re creating, selling and supporting, and I’m finding both of these discussions to be a bit discouraging. So I write this post- a rationale of why and how we do what we as well as a plea for your support.
The first discussion revolves around the question, “Why do you charge for all of your addons?”
From my perspective, commercial addons are the ideal solution for a commercial product such as MojoMotor. While it may come across that we just want to cash in on a new market, for me at least the rationale is deeper than that.
As a web developer using ExpressionEngine for my clients, I often need the functionality provided by addons. I am given a choice when I start the project, either I can build all of the functionality myself, or I can purchase someone else’s addon and use it. There is also the third option of finding a free alternative.
I normally choose to purchase a commercial addon. Why?
In either the case of building my own or using someone’s free alternative, I lose support for the addon. If I build it myself, I have to support it. A free addon may have support, but there’s no guarantee of how long it will be available, how attentive the developer will be, etc.
When I’m charging customers thousands of dollars for a website, I don’t want to be taking that kind of risk to my credibility. If something isn’t working, I need to be able to get in contact with someone who knows what they’re doing. Sure I could dig through the code and figure it out myself, but that’s a waste of both my time and the customer’s money. That’s why I use a commercial CMS like ExpressionEngine, and stick with commercial addons to add functionality.
In the same vein, the addons I and other MojoAddons developers are selling come with support. That’s where the price comes into play. Most of us wouldn’t mind contributing a small piece of code to the community to help people out, and both Dan and Phil have done this, but the influx of support requests makes it unreasonable to do this for our larger and more complicated products. It just comes down to a matter of time—donating maybe two or three hours to the cause is one thing, but the unending hours of e-mail support add up and take us away from our other priorities.
Support is the main reason why we charge for our addons.
Along this same line of thinking, I just want to remind our customers that you shouldn’t hesitate to contact us for support. In the MojoAddons download center, and e-mail is provided for support of each of the products you’ve purchased. You’ve paid for our support, so please don’t hesitate to use it.
We’ve had a lot of great reactions to our addons, and we’re excited about that. But a few bugs have cropped up here and there, and I’d encourage you to contact us for help when you do find a problem, rather than trying to fix it yourself. In the end it’ll help make our products better, and it’ll help us help other users of our addons.
The second discussion I’ve become aware of surrounds the development of free alternatives to the addons we’re selling.
Firstly, I’m all about supporting the community. EllisLab is known for fostering active, friendly and helpful communities of users surrounding its products. It’s one of the reasons it’s so great to work with CodeIgniter, ExpressionEngine and now MojoMotor. I just want to get that out of the way to begin with. In no way do I condemn the creation of community code and addons for the good of everyone.
What I do condemn is blatant imitation of commercial addons. I’m certainly no intellectual property expert, and I don’t really want to dive into legal battles. But the reality is, there have been several free addons released that clearly have a basis in the functionality my colleagues and I have envisioned and built.
It’s discouraging to see this, tearing down the hard work we’ve done and the support which we’ve committed to offer.
A lot of thinking, preparation, development time and testing has gone into creating the products we sell. And we’re proud of what we’ve done, creating, hopefully, easy-to-use tools for MojoMotor users.
I totally support the creation of free alternatives, as long as they don’t duplicate the functionality of our addons with nearly-identical syntax, etc.
While I don’t have any recourse for this situation, I want to try and turn this around to have a positive outcome. There are GREAT developers out there now, working hard and fast to create everything the MojoMotor users wish and hope for in addon software. So, instead of condemning these actions I’m going to call them to a greater cause:
As software developers in a great community with a brand new product, I encourage every developer to INNOVATE. Sure the other MojoAddons developers and I have had some pretty awesome ideas thus far, but the community can no move forward if we simply continue to rebuild the same addons in small iterations. The MojoMotor users are calling out for the features they want to see.
Regardless of whether you choose to release your addons for free or commercially, we developers are problem solvers. And trust me, there are plenty of problems out there to solve. So get out there, do it. Don’t let the ideas I or my colleagues have created hold you back to an idea of how your addons should work.
We are a community, and I am glad that EllisLab is committed to organizing its users in this way. I encourage everyone here to respect the creations others have come up with, continue to build up the products we love with equally awesome addons and lastly to work together, not against each other, to bring MojoMotor to new levels of functionality that will benefit everyone.
Posted on April 4th, 2010 at 10:24pm in Business
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OK, I was kidding about the top 10 part up there…
I’ve just read Tom Myer‘s book, From Geek to Peak: Your First 365 Days as a Technical Consultant, and I thought I’d share my comments about it.
Firstly, the book is written an a very fast-reading, snarky and entertaining style. It’s not textbook, but more a walk through of Tom’s personal experience in entering the field of technical consulting.
For me, this book wasn’t so much groundbreaking, as a total confirmation of what I’ve been doing so far with my company, Conflux Group. After reading through this book, I’m now more confident than ever that I’ve been moving in the right direction since I started my business last year, and formalized it this January.
As I continue on in my own endeavors, I’ll certainly be thinking back to the practical tips Myer provides for building credibility and visibility, finding new clients and diversifying, all things that I had in my mind, but have now been made more clear.
The one factor that does seem missing from the book is social networking. There is some talk about LinkedIn and blogging, but a future edition could certainly include some commentary on leveraging social networking giants like Twitter and Facebook. I see three main areas where social networking can be vitally important to a burgeoning consultant.
- Keep up in the game. As a technologist, it’s vitally important to know what the current trends in technology are and understand how and when to use various tools for your clients. Sometimes you’re given the chance to choose a solution, while other times the client tells you what they want you to use. Either way, it’s important to know what’s out there and be knowledgeable enough to give that all-important critical feedback as well as get the job done.
- Build a support network. We all get stuck sometimes. And we all need to joke around about our work sometimes. The unfortunate part about working alone, though, is that you’re doing just that — working alone. Social networking tools can help you stay connected with other people in your field to build casual relationships (and sometimes business relationships too) that can help you out when you’re stuck or need a break from the daily grind.
- Reel in new clients with your own 140-character wit and charm. Many clients may not be the most tech-savvy, and so, it may not be the most common place to build new client-consultant relationships, but it can’t hurt to try. I can say that my most steady client, another web firm needing additional development help, was found through Twitter.
Anyway, even if you’re not the reading type, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of From Geek to Peak for yourself if you’re even remotely considering turning your personal obsession with all things nerd into a profitable part-time or full-time job. If nothing else, it’ll be your small part help keep Tom and his wife Hope from going homeless.