The great meeting kit!

Over the years I have attended 100’s of meetings. Some that you would assume were bombs that ended up being great meetings. Some that had to be great meetings that in the end fell far short.

Why is that?

Great Meeting Plan:

· Great meetings start on time

· Great meetings end on time

· Great meetings are a safe haven/open forum

· Great meetings are structured but allow for free flowing exchanges

· Great meetings are talked about – frankly they are “fun” to attend even if they are incredibly hard work while attending.

This brings us to “everyone should have in their Great Meeting Kit.” Great meetings are all about control, process and validation and of course require the four pieces above coming together.

Great Meeting Kit:

· A way to share the information

o Pre-meeting information

o Meeting information

o Post-meeting collaboration

· An acceptance of others schedules and requirements

o Gathering pre-meeting information

o Recording the meeting for later review and presentation

o Post meeting collaboration that supports online, offline and nearline collaboration

· A list of people to be involved that can participate materially in the outcome of the meeting

· A plan to meet the Great Meeting goal of “fun,” “hard work,” and ultimately achieving the team and personal goals of the people attending the meeting.

· Have a comfortable meeting place that supports what you need to do

o Projection

o Conference call

o Video Conference call

o Whiteboards

· Consider the shape of the room, King Arthur built a round table to show that everyone at the table was an equal. Consider the shaping of the room. As a school teacher I found that the more “circleish” the desks ended up being, the less likely we were to have issues/concerns and communication problems.

o People need to be heard

o If they aren’t heard they have two reactions

§ Withdrawn

§ Become combative

o Don’t make your room a part of the problem!!!

· A solution that allows for the publication of post-meeting notes and pre-meeting agendas that tie the meeting together


Now for something completely different

Some communication anti-patterns:


· Selective Communication: this is where only certain people are privy to the “big picture” view of the overall project. Everyone else is kept in the dark.

· A variation of selective communication: the special people list: Beyond the selective communication is the concept of only certain people are the “favorites”

· Project Pirate: Swoops in and take charge of the meeting leading you in a new direction

· Project ghost: appears at every meeting and never agrees with anything. When the project has issues they are the first one to say “I was there and tried to stop them”

· Brain Storming Police: Starts conversation with a statement “let’s talk about what is going on and come up with ways to solve the problem.” When an idea is presented they respond by saying “well let’s not go there”

· Project Dictator[1]: Ok so maybe they don’t have special police forces for specific projects but you know what this person does. We are building a solution and there is ONLY ONE WAY TO DO IT

· Everything is Bad News: this person attends meetings and of course always has the negative view of what will happen next or the overall impact on the project. If they are the team lead this can be a huge issue

· Everything is Good news: this person attends every meeting and regardless of the situation only hears the good news. If they are the project lead this can be a huge issue.

· The Volunteers Evil Twin Brother: will also volunteer to drive things for your solution but will SELDOM if ever complete anything they volunteer to do

· Anti-Leader: the naysayer who makes Bad News Betty look like an optimist. This person will walk into the room as a leader in the eyes of some team members and then will do everything possible to destroy the project from there

· The Anti-Comic: This person interjects humorous comments at the wrong time that break up the meeting with laughter and groans. For humor in a meeting it’s all about the timing

· The Hanger-On: We never really know who invited this person to the meeting or in fact why they seem to be in every meeting but they are there. Their ultimate goals have nothing to do with any meetings rather they are “all-about” filling out their timesheet with all the meetings they have attended that week


[1] This reference comes from Stephen “Doc” List and has been modified from his original project dictator.

Laughing through the meeting

from my upcoming book on transitional services, the various communication patterns. Anti-patterns are coming tomorrow…


· The helper: Let’s move this forward – what role do you need me to play? The helper can move your project forward very quickly

· The volunteer: This person will step forward and take on anything to move the project forward

· The cleaner: This person will remove issues and problems from the technology or business side of the solution by talking to people and working through the issues

· The opera star: well you know this person kinds of announces the project is completed and was of course, a huge success. They can also trumpet milestones and hurdling of small problems

· Commander Cody[1]: this person works through the issues with the project pirate and the ghost by engaging them and involving them in solving the specific problem you are attempting to solve

· Leader: the person who will take this team to greatness

· Scribe: the person who will document your meetings, from a camera picture of the whiteboard to extensive notes taken and posted on the team site the Scribe helps bring consistent communication to your team.

· The Comic: this person has impeccable timing and shares funny stories that continue to move the meeting forward while keeping the topic light


[1] With of course deference to the old radio show, “Commander Cody”

The architecture of snow fall


  • White Christmas (or white holiday season)
  • Enough for Skiing (in places where you can ski)
  • Hills covered
  • Trees covered
  • Driveways open *no snow
  • no snow on roads


  • Free fall delivery system

Which of course means in the design the freaking snow goes everywhere. Somebody needs to review the design specs on that implementation.


That perfect burrito

From the freezer to the microwave in less than 20 seconds. but let it cool or you will end up burning your tongue.

What does the perfect microwave burrito contain? Well you have to have cheese and some meat (not sure based on the taste that anything other than meat is required – it could be alligator).

You need a wrapper.

You need a system to warm the entire burrito in the microwave without burning any section or part of the burrito. You need a solution to keep the moisture in (as microwave stuff always seems to dry out).

All in all you need an architecture.

Oh and a delivery system that burn the consumer.



I want to be a cowboy, well, a policeman, no a fireman possible a clown

How many children age 11 want to be Software Architects?

There were so many things I wanted to be as a child. I had dreams of what I would be and well as a child i suspect with effort I could have been any of the things I dreamed I might be.

I spent a lot of my teen years desiring to be a writer. I’ve accomplished that over the years but in the end I graduated from college with a degree in education. That was my fallback (per my grandfather – boy always have a fallback position) position. The progression from teacher to technologist had occurred long before I actually started teaching. I used to play with a PLATO terminal in my dad’s office, and a PDP11 at school. Look them up if you don’t know what those were. Its from the dark past of computing.

By the time I took my first teaching job the computer bug had bit me. Within seven years I had left teaching and had moved into technology full time.

But, at no time until I joined my current company did I ever consider, desire or even plan to be a software architect.

Interesting the twists and turns life presents us in our journey.


Today, the answers will not be available

because Bill, the only guy who knows how that system works quit last night. The answers may not be available tomorrow, possible even well into next week. Bill was very angry when he left last night and while he didn’t vandalize anything in the IT department he did take all the information with him.

Normally we would of course in the past have sawed off his head and sucked all our information out before he walked out – but the two deaths we had due to that system has forced us to play by the traditional rules.

We hope Bill will come to his senses before we have to pay someone else to come in and rebuild that entire system.

Of course, until then the system may be up or it may be down.