Tuesday, 31 July 2007

In need of people

Intergen now has its own blog (with a post from me, which is a little scary!). I'm thinking it will be an interesting one to watch - should have posts from a variety of people on a variety of topics but generally covering the organisation/industry wide type issues that I find interesting.

That's my plug for the day :)

We've had some interesting discussions around work lately around the male:female ratio in IT and whether it needs changing; following on from my previous blog posts, the post from me on the company blog and our recently acquired membership to Women in Technology (WIT). One conversation (which went on for an hour!) with a couple of other women was particularly interesting. I was asked: "So why do we need women? Do we actually have anything in particular to offer other than numbers?" and it was also pointed out that "The IT industry just needs people". True. And, I think, exactly what I've been trying to say.

I'm aware that there's a fine line between helping things shift equality-wise when they need to, and making too large a fuss that only creates new problems and I want to make very sure I'm clearly on the right side of the line. So, in the interests of clarity and not being lynched, here's a quick summary of where I stand:

The IT industry needs people to work in it but, for some reason, half the population are far less likely to than the other half. There's no particularly good reason why this difference should exist to this degree so, as far I'm concerned, it shouldn't. But, it does, and there are some bright young women out there who would probably really enjoy an IT career but don't think of it as an option. That's not cool. I'm not a crazy women's-rights activist, but I am passionate about young people getting all the opportunities they can to excel. If I can do something to ensure that girls are leaving school with a good grasp of the choices they have of where to head next then I'm all for it!

We need to promote IT as a career to people. Not women. Not men. Just anyone and everyone who has the aptitude and might enjoy it. However, whatever we're doing at the moment seems to only be reaching the men... and that's what I think needs to change.

(Incidentally, the other thing I think may need to change at the moment is for me to stop being the 'womens advocate person' and go back to just being a developer...)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Head re-attached

It would appear that busy-ness combined with flu has a negative impact on blogging frequency... Not that surprising really.


I thought it was worth following up on my previous post on my adjustment, or lack of it, to a team leadership role. Things have definitely settled down since then although I get the feeling that has more to do with the project itself moving on from start-up panic to settled development rather than anything I have done. I have made one change to how I work though which I feel makes a big difference:

I no longer make paper to-do lists.

Sounds simple but, to be honest, not something I thought I'd ever do. I really like to-do lists I can scrawl on and cross off and put big circles around. I like having something that's not on my screen and is always visible no matter what programs I have open. Something I can pick up and take to meetings, or take satisfaction from screwing up and throwing away. Despite this, I don't have any now and it's great.

I've been using the Tasks feature in Outlook as a replacement. I use the to-do bar which happily displays my currently incomplete tasks and my upcoming meetings next to my emails. Like the rest of the world it seems, I always have Outlook open somewhere and it's visible about 90% of the day (If anyone is wondering how on earth I manage to get anything else done, think 'two monitors' and all should become clear...) so my to-do list is still pretty much permanently and instantly accessible. Here's what I've found really useful about this:

  • I never have to rewrite my list. Being digital, items get added and removed and the list quite happily cycles over time. Big advantage: nothing gets lost in the process of moving to a new piece of paper.
  • Categories. I now have, effectively, two lists at once - one for things I need to do and one for things I am waiting for the client to get back to me about. One click moves items from one list to the other as necessary and I no longer forget which questions I asked in that email to so-and-so last week.
  • 'What did I do yesterday?' is easier to answer. Tasks completed on a particular day show up on that day in my Outlook calendar so I end up with all meetings and tasks in one place to refer to when I need to fill in a time sheet.
Although things do still slip through and get missed that's now usually a result of me not wanting to do them and coming up with some semi-plausible excuse to leave them 'for now' rather than me genuinely forgetting/losing that one critical thing. So I can happily blame it on my own stupidity :)

Otherwise I haven't made many changes. I still check emails as soon as they arrive, mostly because clients frequently send me meeting requests at short notice or urgent requests for something-or-other that need dealing with straight away. I think this is ok... since I don't have a audible alert for emails I do need to glance at Outlook to notice their arrival and if I'm doing something where a context switch would be harmful I'm generally engrossed enough not to look up.

So, there you are. Tip of the day: throw away your paper to-do lists and use something digital instead. It definitely doesn't have to be Outlook, it just needs to be something that lets you add and remove items with next to no effort and will be constantly visible.

In other news - I'm going to TechEd this year! Intergen sends a group every year as we help to run the Hands on Labs. Very excited and pleased to be one of those able to go. I wanted to go last year but felt too small and inexperienced to apply. Decided to apply this year despite being fairly sure of not being able to go due to project commitments so it was a very pleasant surprise :) So, if you're going to be at TechEd in Auckland come say hi - I'll be the girl in bright yellow camo pants...