Monthly Archives: September 2015

So who do you look for?

I’m always examining situations to see what makes a successful team work well.  Is it a group of super technically adept folks, all working together, or is it more important to have the soft skills – communication, humility, and problem solving – that trump the person who can write code in their sleep?

Lately I’ve been thinking that soft skills are a lot more important.  I’ve done interviews with people for fairly technical positions and though it hasn’t been popular at some companies, i’m more interested in someone I can have a conversation with, sit down at a table and hash out ideas and solutions, and just genuinely get along well with.  It seems more important to me that people get along and can be part of a team that checks egos at the door and can really dig into the meat of an issue and not introduce the factors that kill teamwork – lack of acceptance of accountability,  and an unwillingness to stretch ideas and concepts without worrying about how it’ll make them look.

The truest sense of a team is a group of people that are willing to look at the problem or issue, agree on solutions, and get the work done without any of the extra BS that slows things down or contributes to misunderstanding or leading things down the wrong path.  If you are lucky enough to get really technically savvy people who are humble and love what they do, always look for ways to keep that team together.

Give me someone who is willing, eager, and wanting to learn any day over the pompous guru who thinks they are above it all.  Sure, maybe they can get things done, but do you need/want that kind of poison on a team?

What to blog about?

I’ve been trying to be good about blogging once a week, and so far so good.  I’d like to add that I’m in the process of nailing down a nasty case of ADD and trying not to get distracted by every little thing, so I guess I realized what I’m going to blog about.

Distractions.  I’ve always been knocked around by trying to do 500 things at once.  The shiny tech, the new toy, the awesome game: any and everything that catches my attention or fancy.  I really didn’t realize it was an issue until it kept happening time after time, and I started seeing someone about the helpless spinning of wheels I was feeling.

So how do you keep on track?  I tried online tools, but they were mostly the same and I jumped from one to the other getting frustrated with this or that or just wanting to try something new.  In talking to a therapist about it, people with ADD need more structure than most people do, it keeps things concrete and in your face so that you can feel the satisfaction of crossing something off while at the same time not wrestle with keeping 20 things in the air at the same time.  I was great about assigning tasks, but crap at checking up and making sure timelines were being met.

I got a calendar that I carry around.  Before I would use one notebook and put boxes next to action items that I would then check off when I finished.  Problem is, if you don’t check them all off before you turn the page, the tendency is that they will not get done.  So now my notebook is for notes at meetings and the weekly calendar is not only to remind me to do my stuff, but also to remind me when I  have asked for things from other people so I can follow up with them.

How do you do it?

But it’s a good idea!!!

Today’s post is a quest.  No, there will be no dragon slaying or any such fun.  This is a quest to find out the best way to convince your management team that investing in a Data Warehouse is a good idea.

I see a definite need to be flexible and agile with reporting and customizations on dashboards which is why I want to pull it out of the main transactional system and drop it into a well formatted warehouse that we can build up and build on.

I’ve worked with transactional and data mart systems, so I know the benefit, especially since you can lay the data out the way you want to, but how do I articulate that into $ and time saved for the company while still asking them to invest in the prospect?

Ideas:

  1. Build a small prototype
  2. Put together a presentation about the benefits of DW and separation of reporting from daily ops
  3. Shake a rain stick and magically create money
  4. Put together a master plan for moving the whole honking thing into a DW
  5. Have a company like Pragmatic Works do a Sprint project for us where the end result is a working prototype

I think my misgiving with getting started is that I am not positive what will make the biggest impact, and not overload me with work, or worse – give the work to someone else.  I’m not a developer right now, so I want to not only manage this effort, but do the bulk of the work, but I still have my current job that is making sure I have a roof over my head.

I think the start small approach, and take one small part of it all, and just generate some generic granular reports that can roll things up might be a good start now that I’ve gotten this all written out in front of me.

What do you all think?

How do you get things done?

Here’s the dilemma of the day.  How do other people get things done?  How do you prioritize?  What should be done in which order?

Finding out I have ADD explains a little as to why I’m always so scattered, but it’s not an excuse as to why things aren’t getting done.  I’m still reading and studying, I only went 6 days between posts, which is keeping to my ‘less than a week between posts’ list item.  I want to get a position where I’m utilizing my people skills in talking to people and helping them design solutions, and then be able to dig into those plans and make them happen. but in order to do that, I need to bring up my skill level.

Do I study more, or try to implement more?  There’s a big part of me that wants to open up SSIS and get to work, but another part of me that knows that if I don’t have a well thought out plan, I’m going to fail.

You know what?  I’m hungry.  That’ll help solve this.  Seriously, I’m going to take my notebook and sketch things out because visual stuff helps me move things along.  And fries, fries help too.  And maybe a vanilla shake.  Okay, I feel better now. 😉

How do you tackle a new idea or issue?  Plan or start typing?

Twitter – advantages and disadvantages

At one point in my career, everything was RTM (Read the Manual).  If you couldn’t find it in the manual, you had to find some other hack, or prayer, or someone else to solve the issue that was currently throwing up a brick wall.

Then “let me google it” became the preferred method.  I was always a little worried about it because of the whole notion of “If it’s on the internet, it’s true” maxim, plus the fact that a couple of the proposed solutions I just dropped in and ran to varying degrees of disaster.

Then I discovered Twitter was more of a developer tool than an “I’m bored and need to waste time” sink, and had a venue to ask questions from people a lot smarter than me.  Tags like #sqlhelp and #ssrshelp were my favorite ones, but after a while, I started realizing that the amount of effort I was putting in to solving a solution was lessening because it was so much easier just to ask leaders in the field or people who had done a lot more than I ever would.  I realized that Twitter had become a bit of a crutch.

Another disadvantage is how quickly you find like minded people and end up trading quips back and forth for what seems a few minutes but ends up extending a lot longer than that.  Finding those people isn’t a disadvantage, letting conversations take over your workday is 🙂

The greatest advantage is the helpful interaction: getting tips and announcements and articles to further my knowledge of the industry and technology.  The notion of #sqlfamily has true meaning because I have to say I really enjoy the community that I have been interacting with.  Not sure if I can say I’m part of the family(wondering what the adoption process is), but it’s been really beneficial to follow people and see their interests and expertise and want to try to emulate that on a regular basis.  I haven’t really done much worth publishing or talking about, but I’m going to continue to blog and expand my horizons and try to become someone people want to follow because I have something to contribute above a funny quip.

Question – how do you get people to follow you, without sounding desperate ?  I’m thinking it’s just making a contribution to the conversation.  Sometimes social, sometimes technical, and always with respect.

Doing it…

So many times, we limit ourselves.  We think that things are not possible, feasible, or even imaginable.  I think the notion of being your own worst enemy is prevalent in society, so much to the point that I think we become complacent with what we have.  We give up trying because it’s too hard, or too much work, or there are too many other things to do.

What do you want?  Do you want to continue doing the same thing, and just complaining about it, or settling for what you have?

There have been so many times in the past where I have tried to get started back into development, but without a plan and just looking at the surface of things.  How can I get to where I want to be was never a question I asked.  It was always build huge unwieldy thing and don’t plan.  I think this is the reason I am on the path I am on and not the one I want to be on.  It’s not a change one thing and you’re life will be better.  It’s change something every day, at every chance to try and better yourself, your community, and the world.

I think for me, the part that is helping is this blog – writing out how and what I am feeling and trying to make sense of things and plan what I want to do and what I want to be.  What I want to be changes daily, but I know at least, that I don’t want to be complacent.  I’m studying and reading a lot, and trying to spend as little time on FB or staring at Reddit.

Is it just me?

What are you DOING?!?

Trying to post regularly, and one thing I’d like to try to track is my progress.  So what  have I been doing?

Reading Now: Kimball Group – The Data Warehouse Toolkit
Planning Now: looking at PowerBI and trying to connect to a test database at work.  I want to try to put together a pilot project to show what it can do and why we need to utilize it.

Reading Next: Practice material for 70-461
Planning Next: Continue work on datawarehouse.  Create script written, populate script to be designed.

Mentally/Emotionally: A friend told me that dropping off my son would be tough and that I would experience a lot of emotions.  He wasn’t kidding.  He also said that it gets better each day, he was right, but I have to say it still sucks. 🙂

Physically: Always hot.  Seeing Endo about thyroid.  Still teaching TKD twice a week, but could use some extra.

Question of the week?  What motivates you physically?  What motivates you careerwise/intellectually?

“It Depends”

How many of us have been faced with that question from a business person or a manager where you know they want a definitive answer, but the only thing you can give them is “It Depends”?

It’s such a great phrase, but why do we use it?  Well, lets be real, in some cases you’re using it so  you can cover your ass!  A lot of those questions that you get are pretty loaded ones, the kind where you’ll end up with a boatload of work that wasn’t supposed to be yours in the first place.  Why do people look at us so strangely when we answer this way?  You have to have answered this way at least once to get it.

But think about the phrase.  It’s a pretty cool one if you think about it.  I want to somehow move back into development.  How can I do that?  It depends.  Yeah, it depends on me, it depends on how I plan, act, react, and plod forward.  People make fun of Shia Lebouf for the “Do It” video, but he’s right.  I have spun my wheels long enough and am making strides forward, but it depends on me to keep the forward momentum going.

It depends on others as well.  I’ve gotten some really good advice, and found out a lot about myself because of interacting with others.  I always knew that I was a good problem solver, I didn’t realize how much I relied on other people’s expertise to get it done.  Something I’d like to correct going forward.  The people you surround yourself will will help the outcome tend to be better as well.  Your progress depends on advice, comments, and feedback from others.  Just don’t rely on them as much like a crutch and instead use their advice and make up  your own mind.

So once again, my posts are about me, but that’s part of my journey to development – a journey of self-discovery as well.  In fact, I like that line, I think I’m going to change my tagline for the blog.

Thanks for getting this far in my ramblings, please feel free to comment!