You are going to fail

Eventually, you are going to fail. Not once but many time.

Wimbledon finalists (and champions) are remembered of this fact each time they enter the court.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

If (Ruyard Kipling)

And basketball champions like Michael Jordan said it long ago.

26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.

The Sign of the Swoosh (Goldman, Papson)

And both professional tennis and professional basketball are competitive games. Many works today are not competitive but cooperative ones.

When facing innovation, being able to fail and face it in the same way as success is not only a skill. It is a MUST. That’s what this “celebrating failure” culture is about.

Both your successes and your failures report useful information and open new paths to tackle new challenges. Embrace them. The only people not failing are the ones not trying.

Related: Trying is harmful.

Related: On winners and dealing with failure.


Quotes on documentation: Discovery vs The Agile Manifesto

Working software over comprehensive documentation
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more. (Beck et al)

Living documentation offers a way to track (and correct) decisions that turn our to have been wrong, as weel as providing a mechanism for managing change requests.

The BDD Books: Discovery (Nagy & Rose

Not every documentation is a waste of time.

Documentation is a tool. Use it wisely.

Three ways to standardize

Option A.
We’ve already figure out the way.
We’ve a mean and lean team that works great.
Let’s standardize and replicate.
What works for this team will work for the others.

Option B.
We know each team is different.
We’ve unique individuals with their own skills and abilities.
Let’s facilitate each team to find their own way to make it.
Each team knows better how to make it by themselves.

Option C.
We haven’t figure out the way. We understand that each team is different.
But we know how to let each team figure out their own way.
Let’s standardize this.
And replicate.

To sum up…
The three options could work (and did it in the past!) depending on the environment, restrictions, culture and so on. The three options could also fail.

We’d better choose wisely and let ourselves learn from results. Then improve. Standardize. And replicate.

(*) Hint: nothing to do with the Monty Hall problem 😉

Quotes on designing (and living)

I read “The non-designers design book” a few years ago. It’s a short introduction to patterns of design, by Robin Williams, based on the principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity.

Contrast: the idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. […]

Repetition: Repeat visual elements […] This develops organization and strengthen unity.

Alignment: […] Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page […]

Proximity: […] When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit […]

Robin Williams, The Non-Designers Design Book

Besides all the info and advice on how to turn your amateur docx and pptx into more professional ones, what I like the most is the enumeration of rules for living that happened to be on an example of Contrast.

Your attitude is your life.

Maximize your options.

Never take anything too seriously.

Don’t let the seeds stop you from enjoyin’ the watermelon.

Be nice.

Robin Williams, The Non-Designers Design Book

You don’t need to be busy to be working

What do I do if I have nothing to do?
I’ve just finished my current task. What should I do now

Chances are you don’t have anything to do right now. Don’t worry. It’s fine.

Industry 1.0 and 2.0 paved the way for people not having to think what to do next. Assembly line workers or people at offices would follow clearly defined procedures and systems. Put a nut into a piece. Put another nut into the next piece. Repeat for 8 hours. Go home. After that, the point was optimizing times and efforts so you could lower costs as much as possible.

But it happened that Lean, Toyota Production System and Theory of Constraints demonstrated that working at 100% (or more!) rate is not beneficial, but decreases productivity.

I was thinking on it last saturday, watching the RTVE Orchestra playing the Star Wars Suite.


An orchestra ensembles dozens of highly trained, highly skilled professionals to accomplish a common goal. They all play together to accomplish it.

They all play together? But then, who are that group of people sitting, silent and still, in the background? There are at least fifty of them. And they haven’t done a thing for the whole first two pieces. They don’t have instruments, by the way.


Are they even part of the orchestra?

In fact, they are. They are the choir. They just remained in the background, for eight minutes and a half, silent, still, not disturbing, maybe relaxing, focusing or doing a mental recap of the notes they are going to be singing for the next piece.

Could they be helping the guy with the drums on his beating. Clearly not.
Would they be of help turning the pages of the score of the man whith the trombone. Of course not.
So they just sit still.

Could they be out of the stage, behind the scenes, chating or having a drink? They always could enter after the end of the second piece.
Yes, they could. But it would not be efficient, nor a nice watch. They would last forever to enter and sit down, ruining the flow of the concert, distracting the crowd in attendance and the performers.

So they just sit still.

Having every people in the orchestra, in the team, busy 100% of the time, is not only bad for morale… it’s highly inefficient.

So whenever you face it, please, think clearly and, if you don’t have anything to do, just wait still, focusing for being ready to start working again the very moment it makes sense.


  • The Toyota Way (Liker): “Toyota management says it is OK to run less than 100% of the time, even when the line is capable of running full-time, yet Toyota is regularly ranked among the most productive plants in the auto industry. Why? Because Toyota learned long ago that solving quality problems at the source saves time and money downstream.”
  • Synchronize your watches (Seth): “The work itself now tells you when to start working on it, as the project is passed from desk to desk, from account to account.”
  • Managing the Unmanageable (Mantle and Litchy): “Prioritize. Sometimes, it is urgent to wait. […] When an unexpected issue comes up, engineers (mostly) tend to want to fix it right away to show their mettle, forgetting their actual priorities. It is actually more difficiult to sit back and wait first to understand the actual priority of the new issue” – Phac Le Tuan

Quotes: Meetings are toxic but so is bleach

Meetings are toxic. So is bleach. And, I hope, you wouldn’t stop cleaning your house.

Whenever a meeting is needed, you should make it as productive as possible

If you decide you absolutely must get together, try to make your meeting a productive one by sticking to this simple rules

* Set a timer.  When it rings, meeting’s over. Period.
* Invite as few people as possible.
* Always have a clear agenda.
* Begin with a specific problem.
* Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room.  Point to real things and suggest real changes.
* End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

DHH & Fried, Rework. “Meetings are toxic”.

But take into account that a productive meeting is not the same for everyone involved.

In order for you to feel a meeting was a great success, which of the following should happen?

A. In a good meeting, a decision is made.
B. In a good meeting, various viewpoints are discussed and debated.
C. In a good meeting, a formal stamp is put on a decision that has been made before the meeting.

The large majority of Americans responding to this question chose option A. The French, however, largely chose option B. And most Chinese and Japanese selected option C.

Erin Meyer, The Culture Map, “The big D, the small d”

What is the meeting for? Why are we meeting? Having in mind what are the expectations for the meeting will be a key step into making the meeting a productive one.

Quotes on productivity and distance

“As the distance between two people increases, the information communicated between them decreases dramatically – even more dramatically when they’re in different countries.”

Managing the Unmanageable (Mantle and Litchy

“The bulk of the hassle in adjusting to remote work exists as soon as you’re not sitting in the same office. The difference then beween sitting in the same city, the same coast, or even the same country is neglibible. Once you’ve formed good remote working habits, the lack of proximity between coworkers will start mattering so little that you’ll forget exactly where people are.”

Remote. Office not required. (Friend and DHH)

Is productivity inversely proportional to the squared of the distance?

Distance matters, not for the sake of distance itself. Distance matters because it makes harder having ocasional personal interaction. And distance matters because it makes harder to overlap.

Good news is, the more passionate and profesional people are, the less distance affects. And working remote will allow to hire the best passionate professionals in the world

Related: “[..]is hard to find a passionate person who lacks one or the other. Find the ones with passion and you can count they’ll bring their interest and professionalism with them. ” (Interest + Professionalism = Passion)