Now that you’re ‘working from home’… behaviour and etiquette for Virtual Meetings…

Warning: this is a looonnnnggg post so please excercise due discretion – or read it in your spare time! I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble for reading it in work, especially while pretending to pay attention on a Conference Call… although you could at least argue that it has some learning value 😉

This is an updated version – given the huge explosion of people working from home in 2019 – of a Blog Post published originally in 2015.


At this stage in the evolution of business technology, virtual meetings are an integral part of the day-to-day activities of a huge number of Organisations and work forces. Many Organisations would simply not be able to continue to exist (or would need to adapt radically) if virtual meetings were no longer possible.

First, to get you in a the right frame of mind, this video will give you a giggle if you’ve attended many virtual meetings… but don’t forget to read on afterwards..!

Click here to view on YouTube


At least the technology (whether video or voice-only) is better than it was way back when multi-location meetings started to become common. I agree that they are not as easy (or as productive for some types of activities) as face-to-face meetings, especially when it comes to non-verbal considerations like body language, attempts to contribute, lack of participation etc. However, virtual meetings can also be better, especially when they involve remote / offshore participants.

[read on…]

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How (not) to be a Recruiter…

I deal with Recruiters a lot. Some of my best friends are Recruiters. Well, maybe not, but as a Contractor that changes jobs, Clients and even Sectors every five minutes or so, I rely on Recruiters. And they rely on people like me too. So I tend to get on reasonably well with them. Even when there might not appear to be a mutually-beneficial deal on the immediate horizon, the chances are we’ll be discussing something at some point in the future.

I even partnered up with a Recruiter (who originally contacted me about a role I wasn’t ultimately interested in) to set up a Motor Racing Team and have previously posted an article that might be of interest to Recruiters to understand what we (or I, at least) expect from the collaboration (“In response to all the ‘advice’ from Recruiters…”).

So, it’s not as if I’m one of those potential candidates who dislikes being contacted out of the blue by a Recruiter. It happens maybe 30 times a week and I accept its part of my ‘ways of working’. Even if I’m not interested (or available), I usually just ask for details so I can review them in case one or other of my peers might be a suitable match. But, occasionally, a Recruiter comes along with an air of such self-importance or with such an anti-collaborative ‘F**k you” attitude that it just makes me smile.

Below is the thread of a recent conversation with one such individual. After this, I did 5 minutes of research online and discovered that the Recruiter below (let’s call him David… because that’s his name but I’m not including his 2nd name!) appears to be a one-man-operation, based in Ireland – a small Country in terms of interpersonal and Business networks – and not even based in one of the major towns or cities that Recruiters mostly frequent. It’s worth bearing in mind that ‘David’ is a real person, trying to forge a career for himself as a Recruiter… and that we Contractors often exchange notes on the Recruiters we’ve dealt with…

  • David: We have a Senior Product Owner position in Dublin if you are open at the moment.
  • Me: As per previous emails, it all depends on the contract / role. Please send on whatever details you have
  • David: It would be a permanent role, would you consider such roles?
  • Me: Yes, but it would need to tick a lot of boxes. Again, without details, how would I know
  • [after this, there was a missed call on my phone. I guessed it was from David. It was]
  • David: Shall we have a call to discuss the position and whats on offer?
  • Me: No, thanks, David. I’m currently away on holidays so I’m not taking business-related calls. Also, given the number of emails I get about roles, I always review the details before arranging a discussion. They’re usually not very well suited to me (or vice versa). If you have details, please send them on and I’ll review. If it’s of interest, we can arrange a call. If it isn’t, we will have avoided wasting each other’s time.
  • David: What salary are you seeking ?
  • Me: OK. This conversation is over if you have nothing to actually send. I don’t waste my time on email tennis and I certainly don’t get into negotiation before I even know if I care enough about the role
  • David: I would prefer not to work with you. Passive aggressive and very very rude, not much has changed since i spoke with you last.
  • [when we last spoke, it was about a role that was maybe 5 levels too junior for me and paid about 50% of my current rate]
  • David: If I dont hand over everything you request out goes the dummy. I prefer not to work with people like this. Try and enjoy the rest of your holiday.
  • [Well, at least he hoped I would enjoy the rest of my holiday. Maybe there was sarcasm involved. I prefer to think that’s unlikely 🙂

The interesting thing is, I still don’t know what the role was. David may be so busy that throwing a tantrum and potentially losing a ‘sale’ is not a problem. But I wonder if his Client would feel the same way, knowing that they are potentially losing candidates simply because the Recruiter wants to keep the details of the role a secret because… well, I don’t really know of any realistic ‘because’. Maybe he thought he could sell it to me on a call but not in an email… like I’m going to ‘sign up’ without seeing the details…?

That’s the kind of thing that ‘cold calling, hard-selling’ salespeople did about 20 years ago. It doesn’t work these days, especially not in my Business… Maybe ‘David’ and all the other ‘Davids’ will eventually understand this. Maybe not. Maybe they can move over to hard-selling Insurance, Investments or something equally suited to it.

CiCoDa Racing – The Story So Far

This post follows on from an earlier post: “So, ummm, I own a Motor Racing team“.

I decided to look into setting up an amateur motor racing team in the Spring of 2018. It’s something I always wanted to do but I always thought it would be very expensive. I’ve previously setup a football club and a few different business & it’s always the “behind the scenes” stuff that interests me most.

When I discovered that a contact of mine (JB Farrell) always wanted to try Motor Racing as a driver, we agreed to look into it. 

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Here’s ADAM…

Let me introduce you to ADAM.

Some of you will have heard me mention my ‘other’ work outside of my Business Analysis consulting duties in recent weeks. In fact, some of you might have heard me going on & on about it for years! Well [drum-roll please … this is a real “Water Cooler Moment”]: Flowdaq launched ‘ADAM’ this week at the “WaterCoolers Europe” Trade Show.

ADAM (which stands for Aqua Data Auto Monitor) is an invention designed from the ground up to do one thing: watch the bottles on Water Coolers. Here you can see ADAM at work on the side of an Oasis water cooler (although ADAM is designed to easily fit onto any water cooler).

about3

ADAM actively monitors bottles and tells Distributors, Facilities Managers and Customers when a bottle is used & replaced. In a nutshell, ADAM makes it easy for bottled water Distributors to plan Logistics & Deliveries in the same efficient manner as a Point-of-Sale or Retail supply chain.

Click below to read more
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Are your KYC / Interactive Voice Recording systems redundant for SARs in GDPR…?

Updated 21 Feb 2018

 

I skipped over this particular gem the first 50+ times I had reason to refer to the official #GDPR regulations but, for whatever reason, it jumped out at me this week. I’m curious to hear others’ views. I’m not looking for a definitive Legal interpretation (which can’t happen prior to May anyway!) – just interpretations & views.

This is the text of Article 12.1:

“The controller shall take appropriate measures to provide any information referred to in Articles 13 and 14 and any communication under Articles 15 to 22 and 34 relating to processing to the data subject in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, in particular for any information addressed specifically to a child. The information shall be provided in writing, or by other means, including, where appropriate, by electronic means. When requested by the data subject, the information may be provided orally, provided that the identity of the data subject is proven by other means”.

The last part is the bit I’m interested in:

“…the information may be provided orally, provided that the identity of the data subject is proven by other means”

This could/should(?) be interpreted to mean that any information provided orally (e.g. by phone) as a result of a GDPR rights request (e.g, SAR under Article 15), can only be provided orally (e.g. by phone) if identity verification is not carried out orally (e.g. by phone).

In other words, an Organisation cannot orally give me details of information it holds on me if it has orally verified I am who I claim to be.

This seems bizarre, counter-intuitive and unnecessarily restrictive. It also seems to rule out the possibility of automated voice-based Identity Verification leading to subsequent oral provision of data since – even though there is no actual person involved in the Identity Verification process – it is an oral process.

Hmmm…

Agile Outside the Development Team

Updated with link to download the Issue (free).

I’m very pleased and proud to have an article commissioned for (90,000-readership) Better Software magazine. My article – ‘Agile Outside the Development Team‘ – is chosen as one of the four ‘featured’ articles and the magazine also includes a wide variety of related material (I’ve been reading it for a few years).

You can subscribe to receive the quarterly magazine – free – or download the latest issue – also free – at the following link and, of course, I’d be happy to read any comments anyone might have on the article so feeel free to comment below…

Download Free copy.

Should you treat all Personal Data as Special Category data under GDPR…?

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Those of us involved in evaluating the General Data Protection Regulation (aka GDPR) and advising on how to implement it for different scenarios are well aware of the distinction between “Personal Data” and “Special Category” data and we know that our Clients need to pay special attention to “Special Category” data. However, I have been thinking more and more about scenarios where I might consider recommending Clients treat routine “Personal Data” as if it was “Special Category” data.

Read on for an example to illustrate the point, although there are more examples (and I expect there are many that I haven’t thought of). Dissenting and assenting opinions are welcome so feel free to chime in with your views.

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How to be a BA – become a Scientist.

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How to be a BA – become a Scientist.

The number of Blog posts, articles and discussions that ask or attempt to explain “How to be a BA” is a good indication that nobody really knows the ‘silver bullet’ answer. If you think you’ll find the perfect answer here…. don’t waste any more time reading on: I don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ answer either!

This is not because nobody actually knows what a Business Analyst is or does (although there are many Recruiters and Hiring Managers who obviously don’t!). It is perhaps because there are so many different types of BA, who do different things, in different roles, for different Projects and in different Organisations.

Click button to Read more…

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What, exactly, is an MVP and who decides?

What makes an MVP an MVP…? Do you prioritize the ‘M’, the ‘V’ or the ‘P’…? Who should be the final judge of what an acceptable MVP looks like?

These might seem like strange questions but, like most things a Business Analyst has to consider, each is a simple question behind which lies a very complicated and very, very important relationship between all Stakeholders on a given Project.

For the record, and to prevent Sports fans having to read any further, MVP in this context stands for Minimum Viable Product, rather than Most Valuable Player!

NB: additional paragraph below marked with *  added as a result of feedback.

So, which is more important in a software product development environment: Minimum, Viable or Product…?

Well, that sort of depends on who you are.

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I need a Dollar…. but not that Dollar

I need a Dollar…. but not that Dollar

Last year, I flew to NYC on business over the 4th July weekend. I rented a car from Dollar (@DollarCars / http://www.dollar.com) well in advance. Literally from the moment of arrival, it was a very frustrating experience, including

  • a long, long wait for a vehicle (couple of hours, with about 15 people waiting ahead of me when I arrived and no available vehicles);
  • a demand by the Dollar counter staff to prepay for a full tank of fuel, even though I had Originally made the booking with an agreement to return the vehicle full of fuel;
  • a vehicle – eventually provided – that was not quite as clean inside as it might have been (probably because of the quick turnaround required);

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