Month: February 2006

Influence and Persuation

Did anyone see Derren Brown's 'The Heist' on C4 just after Christmas? For those that didn't, he set up some middle managers by pretending to be coaching them with seminars, experiments, etc. What he was actually doing was kind of brain washing them to think it was acceptable to rob a security van. The last thing he did was to set them up to be walking down a street all alone, going past a security van. 3 out of 4 of them pulled out their toy gun and robbed the van! It was very impressive - and got me and some mates talking about how it was done. We ended up looking on Google and Amazon, and I'm now the proud owner of two books on influence and the power of persuasion. So if find that after having a drink with me, you are robbing banks and strangely putting the money into a Swiss bank account, that might be why :-) OK - most of the things in the books are about how to sell stuff to people, or avoid being sold crap. I'm trying to work out how to use the techniques in software managment... The good thing about the books are that they are backed by scientific research. For example, if you wanted to jump to the front of a line of people photocopying, by saying "excuse me, can i jump to the front" you would only have a 60% success rate. If you change that to "excuse…

Read more

Time Usage

An IBM colleague has been keeping track of time usage by his developers (off shore) over the last week. He found it surprising that only 50% of the time was actually used for development. The rest of the time was take up by communications, knowledge transfer (basically ramp up of new developers), maintainance issues (dealing with customers on the phone doing second level support), etc. Having read Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister, (December 1999, ISBN 0932633439) I wasn't that surprised. It explains why I've always found that doubling an estimate magically makes it accurate. My IBM colleague is going to continue to monitor for a few weeks, so if the results change, I will let you know!

Read more