More Colour, Less Politics in Technology

Grievance widely spreads in Company X last week due to the sudden redundancy. It is not because work shortage; actually there are overwhelmed workload and not enough human resource as always. It is not because the people get redundant fail to meet their job requirements; actually several colleagues with outstanding commitment and exceptional skills suffered from the redundancy.

Before I changed my career to IT, I thought it would be a relatively pure world. Less politics and more colour.

When I changed my career to IT, I thought I was about to help people with convenient work life. Parents will be able to work remotely and more part-time opportunities.

I was wrong it depends on individual environment, and definitely not in Company X. A valuable colleague got redundant, which actually saved Company X’s welfare pay as the result.

I still remember my passion when I studied IT; I still remember my personal life before. I refuse to forget those and to be disappointed. So does many other IT professionals. We are simple people and simply devote our intelligence and commitment to make the world a slightly better place.

Shall we add more colour but less politics to technology?

Picture 1: X’mas card I drew on iPAD while studying in Japan

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Picture 2: Girl holding Mobile Garden I drew on iPAD. Mobile Garden is a project that my laboratory mate started in German.

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Picture 3: and sweets! That’s called life!!!

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I am not smart I am learning

‘Smart’ is the word repetitively appears in IT world, but not that often in my previous careers. If a person can program, the person must be smart. If a person knows technology, the person must be smart. If the person works for a blue-chip technology vendor, the person must be smart.

 

Recognising people as ‘smart’ without concrete context can grow arrogance. Arrogance hurts, not only to others and relationship, but also eventually to self.

 

In addition, recognition with ‘smart’ does not help encourage desired behaviours. We want to encourage behaviours that can be developed such as ‘dedication’, ‘team work’ and ‘learning’; no those are born with such as ‘good looking’ and ‘smart’.

 

Moreover, simply recognizing with ‘smart’ ignores the person’s effort invested in doing a good job, as if they were just naturally born to do a good job.

 

I also received comments like ‘smart’ and ‘clever’ many times. However, I’d prefer to be recognised by my effort invested in work and continuously learning. Comparing what I’ve achieved with the effort I invested, I don’t think I am smart at all. Therefore, I am on the journey of continuous learning to enrich my live experience in the world, to be a better person, and if possible to influence the world towards a little bit better place.

 

Life is too short to be little (Benjamin Disraeli)

 

Besides ‘I am smart’, another danger is ‘I am well experienced’. It is not rare to hear the saying that ‘I know how to do things because I have 20 years experience’. Experience is definitely an advantage; however, don’t let it grow arrogance and stop learning.

 

Wang Yangming, a famous philosopher in ancient China believes in the unity of knowing and acting (reference: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wang-yangming/). I understand it as learning by acting and acting by learning, neither can be ignored.

 

In today’s fast-changing world, it’s not so much what you know anymore that counts, because often what you know is old. It is how fast you learn. That skill is priceless (Robert Kiyosaki)

 

I recently download an audible book ‘The 4 Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, which inspires me to be a more efficient learner. I summarise my thoughts and practices below with reference to Tim’s views

 

Ambitious Goal

 

Self-efficacy is one of my favorite theories in psychology – we tend to achieve what we believe. Giving yourself an ambitious goal, even if you just achieve 80%, it is still much better than achieving a comfortable goal which only brings you 50% as maximum.

 

In addition, many things are not as difficult as their initial look when you start doing. With 3.5 months full time study, I passed the top level Japanese proficiency test from new starter. When my husband mentioned this on a famous language forum in China, nobody even believed it. Other examples are I achieved IELTS academic four 7+ in 10 days with initial result of 6. I passed 3 CCIEs within 7 months during my full-time work.

 

Meaningfulness in Learning

 

Meaningfulness is the key in adult learning. Tim Ferriss used a Japanese Judo book to learn Japanese grammar – learning Judo is more meaningful to him than watching Japanese cartoon; while I studied Japanese with the initial purpose of playing games and watching cartoon.

 

I found it sometimes boring to learn technology purely for the sake of technology (obviously I am not geeky enough 🙂 ). I tried to relate technology to business use cases and my service goal of making people’s life easier (refer to my previous post ‘Configuring a router should not be more difficult than using a fridge’).

 

Meaningfulness adds motivation to learning and boosts the outcome.

 

Multi-tasking vs. Focus

 

It really depends on individual brain and task nature whether we adopt multi-tasking or focus on a single task.

 

When I try to maximise outcome in short time and the task involves complex problem solving, I focus on the single task, and use minor task different in nature as refreshment. I am improving on this, as when I am focused on work, I tend to forget my daily task of exercise.

 

Multi-tasking when less brain energy is required. For example, I listen to audible book and radio in foreign language while doing household chores, running and etc.

 

Learning Resource

 

There are plenty free learning resources on the Internet. Following is a few examples:

 

 

 

  • TuneIn: radio stations from all over the world

 

  • Youtube: such as search ‘positive psychology’

 

  • Free course with Udemy: can be searched from OZbargain

 

  • Practice blogging in different language like what I am doing 🙂

 

Configuring a Router Should Not be More Difficult than Using a Fridge

‘Configuring a router should not be more difficult than using a fridge.’ That’s my philosophy in technology.

 

No…not just technology, actually that’s exactly the same belief I expressed during my interview with Deloitte China over 12 years ago as HR consultant. That’s the exactly same belief I hold during my various studies. That’s exactly the same belief that supported my career change from business to IT before. That’s exactly the same belief guide my career development in IT.

 

If things are too complicated, then it implies that something goes wrong and there are space we can improve.

 

My first Master degree was in Human Resource Management and Business. At that time, joining big 4 was almost every business student’s dream in China. During the interview, I explained some HR theories and practice implication in simple terms, instead of big words. Unfortunately the interviewer was not a fan of my belief and preferred complicated concepts to establish knowledge barrier so that client would purchase our service.

 

There was a reason behind me using simple terms to articulate HR concepts at that time. I was a new graduate from Bachelor of International Business when I started Master in HR. HR was extremely abstract and hard to feel connected for a 22-year old, without any management experience and from a different academic background. Even worse, I studied HR in U.K. , under completely different employment law and employee relations from China. What could I possibly do to achieve a pleasant academic result?

 

The trick I took was to make complicated things easy. I projected HR theories into daily life and understand abstract concepts with metaphors and life scenarios. I also practiced to elaborate HR concepts to non-HR friends in my simplified way. It worked for me at that time and was repetitively proven working in my later studies. I related my project management study with World of Warcraft gaming experience. I related my Education study with my previous HR study. I also brought in my skills from marketing experience to engineering work.

 

When a thing turns too complicated, instead of investing more effort, I would prefer to look for alternative to simplify it.

 

I used to work as university admissions officer, dealing student inquires and enrollment. We were extremely busy in issuing offer and processing credit application around semester beginning. It was required to issue offer and credit assessment result in paper. Mail can take long time to reach students; therefore, tons of student inquiries were about application result. My colleagues and myself spent significant amount of time to check application status in database and rely those inquiries.

 

Same as many others, I don’t like work overtime, especially when no overtime pay! To simplify the work, I learned the database tool in use and just got enough knowledge to add a button to pull information from relevant fields of the student profile and generate email. Admissions officer only need to review the email content and click the send button in outlook. We still sent students the paper version afterwards. Since students received the application result much quicker, the number of inquiries significantly dropped.

 

 

When I changed my career to IT, I decided to make people’s life easier. But when I started working in technology, I noticed two issues: 1) IT professional’s life is not easy 2) the client’s life is not always easy – technology can be too complicated to use.

 

Configuring network connectivity, deploying server and etc. are way too complicated than it should be. Configuration and programing are prone to human errors. Also configuration and programming can be repetitive and manual work, not always require creativity.

 

Things become so complicated and evolve so fast that non-IT organisations don’t understand and outsource to service integrators. Even IT organisations can hardly achieve a complete skill matrix.

 

It is not rare that big dollars are wasted due to misalign with client’s environment/requirement, profit from information asymmetry, deployed but not in use and etc.

 

‘Configuring a router should not be more difficult than using a fridge.’ If researchers bear this in mind when developing algorithms and protocols; If developers and product managers bear this in mind when developing new products; if SAs and engineers bear this in mind when designing and deploying technology for client to use…we make each other’s life easier, instead of establishing barrier.

 

I red a Linked-in post today ‘Is agile ad-hoc?’. Such misunderstanding and more precisely mis-application are not rare. Agile may be used as an excuse of ad-hoc; modulised design as an excuse of siloed design; enterprise architecture is beautifully presented without user acceptance and solid ROI.

 

Before blaming user incompetence, shall we make the implementation of those powerful tools more user-friendly? What have we done to enhance and promote usability?

 

I am striving to make your life easier, please can you also help mine?

那些年我经历的歧视

之前看到有些在澳洲生活的华人会讨论自己遇到的歧视,隐忍、愤怒、出手、或是报警,各有各的处理方式。我就来谈谈有记忆的几次歧视或所谓歧视和我的处理方式的变化。

 

情景一:学生时代和刚入职场,作为外地人在上海

 

十来年前在上海读书和工作的时候,北京人不懂上海话,文化和想法也有很大不同。遇到些不快, 印象最深的是三件事。

 

一件是租房子的时候,楼上漏水,到没怎么影响我们,却滴滴答答漏到楼下的住户。楼下不开心了,一口咬定是我们家漏的,想进我们家查看。因为知道不是自己家造成的,就说了情况让对方去问楼上那家。可曾想,楼下上海人举报我们是外地人,可能在家里做非法生意,让警察过来查看。

 

在那个年代暂住证可是比签证还要命的东西,拿不出暂住证关起来的事都有。警察就来上门盘问外加查暂住证了。还好虽然老公没有办,我自己有,躲过一截。

 

第二件也是租房子,和上海的理据有了些口角。对方自己脚踹缝纫机,说是我们打伤,要求赔偿,也叫来了警察。不过警察知道这个人有类似前科,虽然老公还是被邀请去片儿所喝茶,也陪了100块钱,就当作息事宁人了。

 

第三件是上海找工作时候,不管我面试、笔试成绩多好,用人单位还是怕我是北京人留不住。

 

年前时候的自己,心高气盛。处理这些事非常简单粗暴,不是自己气得诱发哮喘,就是冷嘲热讽、不带脏字得骂回去,把对方气得半死,还沾沾自喜自封吵架王。现在想来,得不偿失。对方也不因为被你骂了损失什么(功力不够,没有成功气死谁还,哈哈),吵架解决不了问题,还损害自己的健康。

 

情景二: 求职面试,遭遇外貌歧视

 

虽说我在澳洲找工作保持着面试百分百成功率,在中国倒是各种不顺呢。印象最深的是德勤上海的面试,搞出七轮,专业内容和语言能力,包括中文、英文和日文的面试。

 

其中有个面试官是合伙人等级,可能是打算来个压力面试吧。他彻头彻尾都在否定我。说我的英文是just so so; 说德勤只收牛津、剑桥的,我就读的学校不够好;说我专业能力不行,说出来都是大白话,说咨询就是整知识壁垒,客户不懂就付钱了。等等等等,这些都OK,可是他的有句话让我记了十几年,甚至让我改变了一些人生轨迹。

 

他可能是看我穿了粉色的西裙(是我爸帮我买的,我还特意穿了去面试),说了一句话我记了十几年。 “女孩子20来岁时候可以靠外貌、可爱,到了30来岁就要靠能力、内涵。”我当时一下脑子就蒙了,面试之后觉得无比不甘心,后悔没有当面表达我的不满。只会一次又一次的偷偷流泪,觉得自己各种努力,这好那好,到头来却给人留下个只会卖萌、脑袋空空的印象。

 

虽然后面逐渐释怀了些,但这次经历还是莫名的影响着我。我比原来更努力了,遇到不满我会去表达了,外加加倍卖萌和扮猪吃老虎,嘿嘿~

 

连自己都觉得搞笑甚至是幼稚的是。。。我转行IT之后,选择的第一个实习公司是墨尔本德勤。一路过关斩将,又是好多轮面试。十来个人一桌的assessment centre面试后,只录取了我一个。本来是对这个公司抱有多少敌意的,想进德勤的目的也是进去体会下,证明自己后再无情地踹了他们。但真不得不说这次德勤的经历和之前大不相同,公司合伙人欣赏我的创意,同事也是共进退的伙伴。

 

现在想来刚进职场时候的自己真的是软弱。明明有话却不敢说,一次又一次的难过,浪费自己的时间和精力。自己都保护不了,怎么可能成为别人的支撑。光阴稍纵即逝,我却选择浪费时间在一个生命中的过客身上。慢慢的后来才明白,一个人的话并不能代表他所在的环境,也不能定义我是什么样的人。听过就听过了,不要太认真。

 

情景三:澳洲,来自陌生人的种族歧视

 

在黄金海岸的时候,周末会去中文学校教书。有次上完课回家的路上,遇到个澳洲小孩,张嘴就是亚洲猪滚回自己的国家,嘴里不干不净。可能觉得对方是个小孩,自己平时又在中学做老师,习惯性的问到“你哪个学校的?哪个班的?”,居然直接把小孩吓跑了。。。

 

堪培拉市中心,一直有个披头散发的流浪女人。遇到人也骂骂咧咧,什么亚洲狗滚回去是她的口头禅。每次经过要么就绕过去了,要么就当搞笑看。

 

这些真的是歧视么?从言语上是,但心底里我却认为不是。自己过得百般不如意,又不愿承认是自己的错,就想把自己的穷困潦倒归为外界因素,是外国人抢了我们的工作之类。

 

小孩子么,叛逆期什么不好做什么,澳洲熊孩子抢劫,纵火也不是什么新鲜事。家庭缺乏关爱,父母的影响,自己也不如意吧。与其说是歧视,他们是自己太可怜,语言透露了自己的脆弱和卑微。尊重别人的人才值得尊重。

 

情景四:做IT,遭遇性别歧视

 

之前做一个很大的IT项目,牵扯到很多服务商。我作为C公司的工程师加入了项目团队。团队由来自K公司的一个人负责(这里简称K人)。这个负责人和客户单位的中高层有些关系,便不可一世,各种歧视和不尊重。据说K公司,D公司还有客户方都有好几个员工因为他而辞职或者换团队。客户方派驻团队的成员也有人和我诉苦。我自己当然也是饱受其害。

 

没事我不惹事,事儿来了我也不躲事。高质高效完成自己的工作基础上,联络自己在客户方、K公司和D公司的熟人、同事争取支持者, 收集罪证、有理有据投诉,并在K人上司和客户方上司面前展现受害者姿态,博得同情。

 

利用舆论,自己工作表现非常好,名声很好,K人名声却不怎么样。工作的城市也有女性IT工作者协会之类,一打听就知道他过去的事迹了。并在社交媒体上发表了下面的文章。最后结果,K人上周被客户正式撵走了,据说之前多人投诉,2、3年都没有驱逐得了的人。

 

还是那句话,强而心大,为成为别人的力量和支撑而努力,不断努力!

 

Career in IT taught me a word ‘misogynist’

I happened to watch a video yesterday, titled as ‘Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech’. I am not a fan of Gillard, but the speech content made me feel connected…though I don’t exactly know what the word misogyny means. My friend Google helped as always…’He will zero in on a woman and choose her as his target’ …’He is extremely competitive, especially with women. If a woman does better than him socially or professionally, he feels terrible. If a man does better, he may have mixed feelings about it but he is able to look at the situation objectively’…’He will be prepared (unconsciously) to use anything within his power to make women feel miserable’ (reference: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mysteries-love/201502/12-ways-spot-misogynist)

As a person studied and worked in quite a few different cities and countries, YES, I did experience discrimination, which didn’t affect me much as I know who did those are simply loser and envy what you have achieved.

As a person always has a passion in automating people’s life, I changed my career from business to IT 4 years ago. Since then I started facing bits and pieces uncomfortable experience…but not as bad as recent two incidents. I don’t what to mention details. I doubt those, who cannot treat women in a professional way, overall work professionalism towards clients.

‘He is extremely competitive, especially with women. If a woman does better than him socially or professionally, he feels terrible.’

Apologies to those misogynists that I will not lower my intelligence, skill level, professionalism nor customer service standard to make you happier!

I will not betray my passion in IT and learning ability.

I will not betray my father who taught me to be excellent at what I do, being generous and being helpful.

I will not betray my husband who believe I am the best, smartest and prettiest woman ever 🙂

I will not betray my employers and colleagues who trust me as best worker, outstanding engineer.

I will not betray my university professors who thought I am exceptional problem solver.

Last but not least, I will not betray my clients who trust I can help and defend their benefits.

I am new Australian migrant, female engineer. So what? I still can be distinguished. So do you!

 

沟通中的民主

你有没有遇到这些情况?早上出门,你妈嘱咐一句 “不要丢了钱包手机哦!” ; 或者小组讨论中,某人把你的提案逐条否定,他自己却又拿不出什么建议,你提出改善建议,他再继续否定;再或是你和女朋友吃饭,问她吃什么她说“随便”,问吃川菜么?“不吃”,吃火锅不?“不吃”。。。

乍一看三个情景可能没太多联系,但是在我看来却都是缺乏沟通中的民主。作为一个获得工作心理学资质有着人力资源管理和教育学硕士的现工程师。。。我也会常常考虑工作生活中的沟通问题,不仅会用技术解决问题,更要沟通用软技能解决问题。

什么是我理解的沟通中的民主呢?

积极的方式表达观点,而不是“不要”、“不许”等。当然在一定环境下,命令式的沟通直接有效,比如说明书啦,教练给指令啊,训练狗狗啦。。。但是在另外的一些环境中积极的表达方式可能让听者更容易接受,也更有效-因为你正面给出了方法,而不是仅仅说不要。比如与其说 “不要丢钱包手机哦!” ,不如说“最近过节前比较乱,多加小心”。

积极的表达法还有个好处就是帮助自己和别人用自我实现的原理达成目标。自我实现原理可是我最喜欢的原理,没有之一。简单来说就是有志者事竟成。科学上来说也有不少试验证明,人类的想法、精神力会产生身体上的影响(比如有个试验是关于相信自己过敏或者不过敏能影响身体实际是否过敏的),生活轨迹的变换(太多例子了,相信自己能做成什么,周围人相信你能做成什么,自己的成就非常有影响)。

如果你生活在一个否定的家庭,老婆、老妈天天担心你找不到工作,觉得你不上进,那这种负面的评价会对人有影响,可能这个人事业真的就不顺了。在积极表达的环境下,你要爱家人就要打心眼里相信他们,觉得他们是最棒的。简单的说“不能天天玩游戏呀”,是起不到啥作用的,如果有建议,以积极正面的方式提出,提出的口吻时机也是有讲究的。

提出建议的口吻和时机其实是一个关于影响力的问题。影响力大体来说来自3个方面:职位影响力 (position power)、知识影响力(knowledge power)和关系影响力(personal power)。影响力也都是相对的,比如对方知识和你互补、甚至更多,或者你的职位管不到别人怎么办?很多沟通都不是绝对的,做这个不做那个,很多情况下办法是双方/多方讨论出来的。这个时候简单的“不要”、否定,就剥夺了对方平等沟通的权力。

比如说父母有时候会把自己觉得对的,人生经验强加给子女,你要怎么不要怎样。如果子女遇到什么坎坷,可能还会马后炮似的来一句,我早说了。人生都是自己过的,经验是因人而异的,这个时候探讨商量可能就比“不要”来的有效。

比如有时候网工、架构做久了,就会觉得自己技术牛的要命,上来就把客户当小白。殊不知这样的独断可能丧失客户对方案的接受度,何况客户是最了解他们自己环境的,做出的方案可能不合客户用。

《进击的巨人》这部动画有个场景,守城的士兵被巨人弄的死的死,伤的伤,没啥希望了。能力者三笠过来了,要自己冲过去救大家。被问到你一个人怎么可以的时候,说过 “因为我比你们都强,比你们强10倍!”。。。现实中给大家提个醒千万不要觉得听者都是小白。爱他们就信任他们,帮助他们自我实现。

如果问我理想中的状态,那就是《赤发白雪姬》主人公的状态,那种強くて優しくて誰かの力になるために頑張ります - 强而心大,为成为别人的支撑和力量而努力。

原创,转载请注明出处~!