Posts Tagged ‘communication’


Perfect Questions?

November 29, 2010

During a recent discussion I was having with a colleague who is an Agile Coach and Business Analyst, I asked her what the BA community was interested in regarding the practice of business analysis. Her answer surprised me. She said what many BAs want is the perfect list of questions to ask their clients. The perfect list of questions? Really? Who has that? For all situations?

Instead of the perfect list, how about a relevant list? How could that be created? What if you had a guide that could help you see what to ask? You do. Read More…


The Leadership and Communication Lessons of Josey Wales – Part 3

August 27, 2010

The scene: Josey and his injured young rebel friend furtively approach a river crossing. There they meet three very interesting people – the boatman, Sim Carstairs, who ferries people across the river, Granny Hawkins, who provides supplies and “poultices” to travelers, and a fastidious carpetbagger, wearing a white suit, selling bottles of a cure-all elixir. It is these new characters, not Josey, that teach us a few interesting leadership and communication lessons. Read more…


What Would You Like To See…For Free?

August 17, 2010

We are beginning a project to develop freely available online content. But first, we need your opinion on what topics this content should cover. Please take a moment to answer these five quick questions so that we can provide you the information that you need. Click here to go to the survey. Thanks for your input.


The Leadership and Communication Lessons of Josey Wales – Part 2

August 2, 2010

[If you missed part 1 of this series you can read it here. Spoiler alert: This series will incrementally reveal the plot of this movie. If you have not seen the movie (Where have you been?), I recommend you get the movie and enjoy it prior to reading this series.]

The scene: After his family and farm are destroyed, Josey joins with a group of rebels who fight a guerilla war against the Union. The fight drags on. Eventually, the group’s leader (Fletcher) convinces everyone, except Josey, to turn themselves in to the Union soldiers. Fletcher had negotiated amnesty for the band of rebels. What the rebels did not know was that he did it for a price. The men surrendered and were killed by the Union soldiers. Despite a valiant effort, Josey could not save them. Only he and an injured young rebel (“the boy”) escaped.

All the rebels had been betrayed by the Union (including Fletcher – he believed they would receive amnesty). But Fletcher’s indignation was quickly quelled when he received a commission in the Union army and joins with Terrell (the leader of the “Redlegs” who had destroyed Josey’s family and farm, and was now a Captain in the Union) to hunt down Josey Wales.

Lesson 4: Politics Can Trump Skills. Sad to say, but technical and leadership skills are not a guaranteed shield against common organizational practices or malicious organization politics. Mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, outsourcing and the like often harbor many such organizational decisions that may put your career on the Wheel of Fate. Don’t bury your head in the sand (i.e. your projects). Stay tuned to organizational, market, and environmental changes. These can foreshadow subsequent changes that may have a direct impact on you.

Worse yet, malicious political maneuvers can leave innocent bystanders in the ditch. When I was working as a young developer, I witnessed my first political lesson. A pair of senior staffers who had been the heroes of an initial system delivery (and rightly so) were sidelined as the organization grew and grew, bringing in new teams and managers. The pair were no longer were in the limelight receiving honors and accolades.

During the next delivery cycle, what was later discovered that in order to engineer their personal return to hero status, the pair withheld critical technical information that resulted in a key software component not delivering on schedule. When the call went out for people to help this component team, the past heroes stepped in. The new team’s work was flushed. The old guard “discovered” the “problem”, fixed it, and voila! Heroes once again.

So be careful. Safety experts will tell you that situational awareness is critical to your personal safety. It’s critical to your professional safety also.

Lesson 5: Everyone Has A Price. Fletcher had a price…actually two. One to get his men to surrender. And a higher price to ignore the Union betrayal and track down Josey. What is your price? Oh, you don’t have one? Really? Before somebody asks you to do something that you know is wrong, unjust, unethical, or even illegal, do some self examination. Know your values. Know what principles you are committed to live by. Who are you at your core and what is your code of conduct? Think this through before the pressure comes – someday it will. Stay off the slippery slope Fletcher stepped onto.

You can, as long as you include the following complete text with it: “Bob Maksimchuk is a Principal Consultant and Founder at Project Pragmatics, LLC., specializing in helping software development teams GET WORK DONE by introducing: PRACTICAL techniques, STREAMLINED process, and FOCUSED training and mentoring, all specific to your team’s needs. Visit now at Copyright © 2010 Project Pragmatics, LLC. All rights reserved.”


The Leadership and Communication Lessons of Josey Wales – Part 1

July 21, 2010

Sometimes you can learn important lessons from unconventional sources. If you are unaware, the classic 1976 movie western The Outlaw Josey Wales, set near the end of the U.S. Civil War, was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood, who played the main character Josey Wales.  The writers may not have intended it; however this movie is replete with leadership and communication lessons that are applicable to executives, project managers, team members, or any of us especially in difficult times on our projects. You currently may not be in a leadership position but some day may need to lead.  All of us do need to effectively communicate with those that we work with.  You often hear the lament that technical people need to develop “soft skills”. So let’s see what we can learn from Josey Wales and … Read More


Don’t Rewrite the UML

May 25, 2010

In software development there are best practices there are also worst practices. When bad practices become a common pattern of behavior they can attain “anti-pattern” status. In this article, I’d like to introduce you to the “I Did It My Way” © anti-pattern. Read about it at If you are interested in additional articles, you can find more at