3 Things I Learnt After High School About Selling

In between high school and university, I sold my first commercial software, a billing application I wrote back then in Pascal for a banquet organizer in the neighbourhood. Those were probably the most satisfying $10 I had earned. It taught the programmer in me some simple yet invaluable lessons in selling.

1. Know your customers – Before I approached the banquet organizer, I came to know from a nearby shop owner that they were having trouble with the taxman because of improper bookkeeping. I sold the software to them on the very premise that it will relatively improve their billing …continue reading…

Why Writing Software Is Like Engineering

How would you classify writing software? Is it science (as in computer science), a form of art (as in code is poetry or prose) or an engineering discipline? Terence Parr, a professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco, recently wrote about why writing software is not like engineering. Terence concludes that writing software is more an art than an engineering discipline:

Writing software is most similar to writing fiction novels. Writing novels is also an act of creation in an unconstrained and ethereal medium with few well-established construction rules.

I find this notion to be a …continue reading…

The Lean Wizard of Oz

Recently I read about the yet unbuilt 2011 Ford Fiesta that attracted more than a thousand online pre-orders within the first 6 days of the launch of its reservation program. It made me wonder not only about the marketing hype associated with such campaigns, but also about the fact that pre-orders from such campaigns help dealers gauge interest in the vehicle and what accessories consumers find most appealing.

I found it interesting that the same thought can be applied in the context of technology startups. Pre-release expressions of interest can immensely help Lean Startups gauge interest in the (yet unbuilt) …continue reading…

We Lift On Three

At one of the company stand-ups I attended recently, the topic of discussion was ‘Good Communication’. As simple and ordinary it may sound, it did make me think about an interesting hypothesis.

Research tells us that only 7% of all communication is impacted by the content or the words used. The rest is all non-verbal — body language and tone. At the stand-up, we did a few basic exercises to highlight the basis of good communication, why we communicate (the way we do), with whom we communicate (internal and external parties), how we communicate (the modes and tools) and a …continue reading…

A Red Duct Tape

Joel Spolsky recently wrote about the “Duct Tape Programmer“:

Duct tape programmers are pragmatic. Zawinski popularized Richard Gabriel’s precept of Worse is Better. A 50%-good solution that people actually have solves more problems and survives longer than a 99% solution that nobody has because it’s in your lab where you’re endlessly polishing the damn thing. Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.

Joel’s views triggered a series of rants and responses on the pros and cons of the “release early, release often” pattern and the “analysis paralysis” anti-pattern, a …continue reading…

Turnkey or Chicken

ThanksgivingNot so long ago, an acquaintance who was seeking a software development job interviewed for a role at a “market leader” in the development, implementation and support of financial services software. During the interview, it was revealed that the position is concentrated around the implementation of an Enterprise scale project for a large government organization. He was told that the implementation will be based on the companies existing flagship product (a SOA based turnkey system of some sort), which will be extended and customized according to client requirements.

Just a few days before the interview, a team of representatives from …continue reading…