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    Keys to avoiding conflicts in an offshore IT project – Part 1

Keys to avoiding conflicts in an offshore IT project – Part 1

A new series of articles
I will start today a series of articles on the topic of conflict avoidance within a Software project, and more particularly within an offshore IT project involving international team members.

As soon you put people together to achieve a common goal, the best and the worst can and most likely will happen. The power of achievement of the group is almost infinite. Unfortunately, the power of conflict and misunderstanding is almost as big.

In this series of articles, I want to present various common obstacles in the life of a project team and how to avoid them. We are not doomed to conflicts. But good will and best intentions are not enough. One needs to realize and truly understand what is happening and see the forces in action, to be able to act on the situation and convert the bad into good.

This article is hosted on my company’s website: http://www.liemur.com/keys-to-avoiding-conflicts-in-an-offshore-it-project/

 

 

Fear and Trembling – Book Review

For once, I will not review a technical book or a study but a fiction. Not that I intend to become a reference in literature, there are far better reviewers than I for that, but this book is well related to a topic that I often talk about: cross-cultural communication. This book was given to me by my wife who knows very well my work on communication, especially cross-cultural one. I thank her for that. It is always extremely pleasant to have people around you capable of offering you the perfect book. I would probably have missed that one, had I been on my own.

The context is the following: a young woman, living in Japan, speaking Japanese fluently and knowing the country extremely well is getting a job in a Japanese company. She is not expecting the most fascinating job on earth but she clearly intends to do her best and integrate perfectly inside the company.

I won’t tell you about the story much more than that but I will comment on how this story appealed to me. The author is describing the daily life of someone who believed she could blend into a culture because of her excellent knowledge of the language and the country. She believes that she understands customs, habits, and practices well enough to become invisible inside the group. Of course, nothing goes as planned and her journey inside the company is fascinating. She is not Japanese and it is made very clear to her that she will never be. When I say clear, I mean she understands what is not necessarily said. She does indeed know the culture well enough to get these messages, but not well enough to achieve [...]

Does one size fit all?

No later than a few hours ago (I am referring to the time of writing this text, not its publication), I have written a rather unusually short blog titled “Are you a positive rule breaker?” If I say unusually short, this is because if you compare to what I have published in this blog so far, this was a dwarf of a blog. Why was that?

The answer is that I have written it under the “influence” of my Marketing Director and excellent friend Scott. Although I take full responsibility for the content of that blog, I shall admit my weak attitude towards his strong pertinent and professional advice to make it shoooooort. I said to him that I used to expose my ideas and thought more expansively. At this he replied that I was almost obsolete and that the trend is Twitter-like communication with 140 characters max. I then replied that this is all rubbish and that I actually don’t give a sh*** of Twitter’s constraints and that I will even take time in the future to write a blog about my level of contempt for this famous trend. I do not believe that you can indeed always express proper ideas in 140 characters with satisfactory result. To this answer Scott made two comments:

1à Twitter would pretend that they did psychometric researches that have shown that an idea is writeable in less than 140 characters.

2 à This is great. Do not forget to write this blog (he loves controversy and provocation as much as I do).

Well, here I am. I’m going to keep my words!

First of all, I do not believe a single second that Twitter has chosen 140 characters on any psychological research. [...]

The Story of Writing – Book review

I love the British Museum! When I go to the British Museum I always visit the book store. The book store used to be a mine of great books. It is now much smaller and quite disappointing to say the truth. Nevertheless, I bought this book at the British Museum. The title “The Story of Writing” was appealing to me as I am very interested in language and how humans have created the possibility to communicate while not in a face to face situation. When we are on a project, we often rely almost exclusively on writing for communicating. I have covered this question several times and my position is that it is totally foolish as writing was never intended to communicate so precisely in the first place. Anyway, I will stick to my topic today: reviewing “The Story of Writing” by Andrew Robinson.

First impression
When you take this book in hand you notice the weight immediately. It is made in very thick high quality paper due to the numerous photos and illustrations. When you scan it, the impression is excellent and you want to stop at every page to have a better look.
In details
The whole book is organised around sections of 2 pages: left and right. So, in a way, wherever you open the book, you are in front of an end to end story. This construction is clever as it gives to the reader a nicely manageable pace for the reading. Each topic is generously illustrated with photos, diagrams, tables and all things necessary to make the point. The range of topics covered is simply amazing. I’ll give you a few: origins of writing; sign language; pictography; cuneiform; Mayan alphabet; [...]

“I’m going to kill you!”

John von Neumann, the “father” of computers as they are now, has said: There’s no point in being exact about something if you don’t even know what you’re talking about. I like that quote and I’ll tell you why.

I have delivered again and again courses about requirements management and requirements gathering. There is no surprise to that, as bad requirements are the main reason for failing projects. The ways to get “bad requirements” are countless. I am not going to detail them today. Today, I am interested in an interesting phenomenon about natural language. It happens that I had to work with the topic of natural language during my PhD and since then I keep an eye on it. As I am also interested in learning languages (I have learnt Hungarian out of curiosity and intellectual challenge) I keep a second eye on it. So, what do my eyes tell me?

I bought the other day “The Story of Writing” by Andrew Robinson at the British Museum (I love the British Museum and its library is killing my wallet every time I go). In the introduction it talks about the different writings over the world. We all know that learning Chinese is far more difficult than learning English. Of course, it is obvious but the explanation why is still interesting. I quote:

All scripts that are full writing – that is, a ‘system of graphic symbols that can be used to convey any and all thought’ (to quote John DeFrancis, a distinguished American student of Chinese) – operate on one basic principle, contrary to what most people think, some scholar included. Both alphabets and the Chinese and Japanese scripts use symbols to represent sounds (i.e. phonetic [...]