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Posts Tagged ‘software’

Target Fixation and Effective Communication

September 29th, 2010 No comments

“Target fixation” is a very interesting phenomenon.

I found a very good post describing it far better than I could written by a lawyer. The relevant quote is:

In World War II, fighter pilots spoke of the danger of target fixation. During bombing runs, pilots could become so focused on their targets that they’d dive, drop a bomb on the target, and yet remain so intent on hitting the target that they’d fail to pull up in time. They’d end up hitting their target and killing themselves. Although they would have achieved their mission, they wouldn’t survive to fly the next one or even to celebrate their accomplishment.

As people working on software we sometimes suffer from this as well. You have a client that is waiting on you to deliver, and you disappear for a month to work on the software, and fail to keep the client informed of status updates.

This is a very common case of ‘target fixation’ with us software folk. From the client’s point of view, they are being kept in the dark and out of the loop. They have customers and other stakeholders they need to inform as well.

The worst possible scenario is when you deliver two days late, and at the last minute inform the client of the delay. Prepare to be attacked. The client now looks bad in front of their customers and stakeholders and you’ve lost credibility big-time as a professional.

In this case the software developer suffered from target fixations to the extent that they hurt their customer relationship.

Being adept at communication is a very important skill, and a competency that will determine your level of success. Indeed, this is what distinguished people such as D. Eisenhower who had to deal with very skittish and nervous allies, and keep interests aligned with the most unlikely of supporters, in a very challenging time. Most of us are not asked to win impossible wars, but we should make the effort to make sure that we do take care of our responsibilities, and effective communication makes this more likely.

Weaving Intangible Software Value

October 8th, 2009 4 comments

I am quite pleased with myself this morning. Starting at 9:15 am and working through 11:29 am, I wrote around 200 lines of code. You may scoff at this, and say that you can write better, more elegant, and superior code to me, and you’d probably be right.

However, the code that I wrote does something special. It leverages data repositories available of names (of people) and through some elegant magic of statistics and frequencies, can tell you with very high precision whether an encountered first name is that of a male, or a female, or unknown (which I’ll put in a queue for further analysis).

Laugh you may. Ha ha.
I’ll laugh along with you.

After all, why would someone want the computer to tell them whether a name is mostly associated with males or females? Shahzad, come on man.. don’t waste your time on stuff like this!

However, think for a second…. and wipe that grin off your face my friend. This (gender identification via names) is the type of capability that makes business people very happy. Associating demographics with individuals can boost the value of targeted advertising by 100 times! Carry out a quick survey of CPM costs online, and you’ll notice a huge difference between the cost of adverts on those sites that can qualify the users and viewers via demographic information, and those that do not. It’s the difference between 7 cents per thousand impressions and 14 dollars per thousand impressions (which is what my business partner’s very astute observation and equally diligent survey has demonstrated to me).

.. and why not? If I was paying someone to show an advertisement, I’d consider the money much more well spent if I knew the profile of the individuals that the advertisements were shown to. Even better, if you could only show adverts to those people who meet a pre-selected profile, you’d be my bestest (sic) advertisement-based content-serving site ever!

Pardon my (hopefully infectious) good humour. I’m going to grab a nice cup of tea to celebrate!