Geograph List Expanding

Field Grasses

A little geograph league table for you:

The funny thing is, Dave lives on the canal so took a great picture of the area around the back of his house. Unfortunately, Martin had got there before him.  Anyway they both have pictures against square SD5230.

And I have managed to complete a nice neat little square around my house. It stands out on it’s own at the moment so I think I’ll have to try and expand it a little.

Funny Tale for a Sunny Day

Wall Painting

I’m working from home today, which is nice because it means I get to sit here in my shorts and enjoy the sunny weather. Working from home on a Tuesday can come with a little bit of a challenge as well and that’s our Window Cleaner. He’s a nice guy, but doesn’t seem to understand that I am working from home not here to keep him company.

Anyway, today he came to the door (wanting his money) so I did my usual thing which was to go downstairs and to explain to him that I didn’t have any cash on me and he would (as usual) have to wait until this evening when the cash holder of the family would indeed have some money. And then he started; “Oh dear” I thought, “what’s today’s tale”.

Well it turns out that it’s warm work cleaning windows today, so he had decided to cool himself down by showering himself with the hose pipe in my back garden. Unfortunately the plastic hose pipe had been sat in full sun all day and rather than cooling him down it sprayed boiling water all down the back of his neck. It looked really sore. I must admit to a quiet little chuckle though.

Smart Parking

Now That's Smart ParkingA friend of mine has just sent me these two pictures. They were taken at their place of work.

One of the reasons that I love working from home is the lack of parking hassle. When I do go into the office there is never enough room to park so I leave early to make sure that I get a space.

Now That's Smart ParkingIf we all drove cars like these, it wouldn’t be quite the same issue.

Here we go again – into problem solving mode

Look like I have been sucked into another problem solving situation, and yet again I am dealing with the frustrations that it brings.

The primary frustration I have is that we end up with big problems because people won’t deal with the little problems. Everyone services their car and includes that in the standard cost of things, yet we so often find ourselves in the situation where people do not service IT systems.

The secondary frustration is that we deal with each of these problem situations in a bespoke way. Each one is unique. This gives us two problems, we struggle to understand what the problem is and at the same time struggle to understand how the team is operating.

How do I deal with frustration? Well for me it does actually make a difference if I put a smile on my face, even if it’s forced. That simple act makes me see things in a different light and help me to focus on the issues.

Would I like to be Certified?

Langstrath

Microsoft have recently announced an Architecture Certification Program(me).

I have always been a bit wary of certification in the IT arena because it always seems to have been focussed on clicking the right buttons rather than on any form of aptitude towards the role. Assessing people’s aptitude can be quite difficult. But in going for a peer review process I think that they have probably hit onto the best way of assessing peoples architecture abilities.

Richard Godfrey has already been through it, and it looks fairly rigorous.

It will be nice to have a development goal to aim for.

Paying the Price for Knowledge

Local Bench

There is a story told of the famous engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz who was instrumental in the making alternating current usable. It goes like this:

[Steinmetz] had worked on a very complex system [at General Electric] that was broken. No one could fix it no matter how hard the technicians tried. So they got Steinmetz back. He traced the systems and found the malfunctioning part and marked it with a piece of chalk

Charles Steinmetz submitted a bill for $10,000 dollar. The General Electric managers were taken back and asked for an itemized invoice.

He sent back the following invoice:

  • Making chalk mark $1
  • Knowing where to place it $9,999

Those of us who are knowledge workers still live in a world that asks questions just like this one “$10,000 that’s a lot of money – all you did was put a piece of chalk on the side of the machine”.

The value of a document is often viewed by the number of pages that it includes.

The value of a presentation is measured on the number of slides that it includes.

The value in an answer that is provided is regularly derived from the amount of time it took to answer the question. If it doesn’t take long to resolve the answer can’t be of much value.

There is often no immediate value in a knowledge worker having the knowledge before the question is asked, because people want to see you ‘working’.

I have just finished reading The Heart of Success by Rob Parsons and he focuses very clearly on being productive rather than spending lots of hours working. The problem is that actually we don’t know how to measure productivity. And because we don’t know how to measure it, we struggle to know how to reward it. we can measure the hours that people work, but we struggle to measure productivity, especially for knowledge workers. Perhaps it’s about time we started applying technology to answering that question.

Lots of statements and questions today, but not many answer so I’ll leave you with another thought from Charles Proteus Steinmetz:

“No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.”

Final Working Productivity Assessment

Strawberry

Over the last few weeks I have been undertaking a quick semi-scientific assessment of my productivity when I am in the Office and when I am working from home. I’ve only managed to do this across a few days and hence it’s probably not that representative. The results are stark:

  • Home working productivity: 166
  • Office working productivity: 86

For those of you who haven’t read the previous articles, this assessment has been done solely on interactions (phone calls, meetings, IM, email, etc.) with extra weight being given to the times when I have been adding value and repeat business. I am a knowledge worker and these interactions are my work. I often consider them as extra to my work, but that’s just a mental and emotional shift I have never managed to make.

Is this study valid though, do I feel twice as productive at home as I do in the office. In short, no. I do feel more productive at home, but certainly not twice as productive. One of the things that I haven’t done is to rate the quality of the interactions and face-to-face interactions are certainly of a higher value than those through a technology interface (phone, email, etc.). This would certainly increase the value of the productivity gained from office working. But that assumes that the people I need to interact with are also in the office, which is generally not the case.

Having experienced worked from home there is nothing worse than sitting in an open office on a teleconference, especially as I sit next to an open meeting area and the noise can be terrible.

The flip side of the value of face-to-face interaction is the lack of focus that interactions have in the Office. I may interact casually with more people, but these are probably people who are not adding to my productivity.

The noticeable advantage to home working is the ability to undertake out-of-work activities and knowledge expansion activities. Both of these are non-existent for office working