Lero Industry Day on Global Software Development

Every now and then, Lero- The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre organises industry days, where  researchers talk about their work with Irish practitioners. The one we had today happened in Dublin, and was hosted by Enterprise Ireland in its East Point premises in Dublin. It was organised in connection with the conference we are hosting this summer at UL – the International Conference on Global Software Engineering, for which I happen to be the local organisation chair.

(Photos by Jack Downey, the Lero Industry officer whose organisation efforts made the event possible.)

The event included 3 talks and time for networking and discussions; there were approx 30 attendees.The detailed programme can be found here.

Dr.Ita Richardson spoke about the need for extending standards like CMMI and ISO15504 to include guidelines for Global Software Development and regulated industries such as medical devices.

My talk was a reflection on the role of collaborative practices such as informal communication, socialisation and cultural mediation. I introduced the socGSD project. I spoke a bit about my field sites and the use of ethnographic methods. I shared  with the audience a number of stories on things as banal as using instant messaging, Skype and social networking applications in day-to-day collaboration between distributed team members. No matter how banal they look like, a lot of managers don’t seem to understand yet their role as the glue that brings people together and allows them to create rapport. I concluded with a few recommendations, emphasizing the role of direct and frequent communication between sites, flexibility in organisational practices and cultural mediation. I got very positive feedback after the talk – several participants came to me to tell me how they resonated with the things I spoke about.

The third speaker was Vikas Sahni of Softedge Systems and it was great to hear from a practitioner how some of the things I touched upon in my talk were seen from the other side. One point where Vikas disagreed with me was cultural mediation and the role of people who can bridge different cultures. He gave the example of an Indian project manager based in Ireland who had difficulties in syncronising with his developers in India, while an Irish project manager was getting excellent results with an Indian team. In my view, this proves the danger of generalisation and of talking about “good practices”.

What works in one case can fail in another, because software is developed by people, and most problems are not connected to technology, but to people, to paraphrase Tom DeMarco. Not everyone can be a cultural mediator – it is a matter of people skills and personality.  Next week, my colleague Alexander Boden will present our joint paper and poster on the topic of cultural mediation at the CHASE workshop collocated with ICSE’09 in Vancouver.

It was a wonderful sunny day, so after contemplating the idea of seeing the Bodies exhibition, I followed an impulse I had since the day I first arrived in Dublin – to get on an open bus and do the tourist tour.

I hoped off in Stephen’s Green and sat on the grass for a while, and then hopped back on. I was planning to see a film at the IFI, but because the bus got stuck in traffic, I got off in Heuston and returned to Limerick.

May 11 2009 | conferences and Events | No Comments »

OpenCoffee, Twitter and thinking out of the box

I went to the Limerick OpenCoffee Club this morning. I could afford this luxury, as the semester is over- no more teaching on Thursdays- and my contract ended anyhow.

We had quite a few of new attendees, and I tried to play the host. Don’t think I succeeded very well, because I was too nervous thinking of the 1000 different things I had to postpone doing for going there! But anyhow, after 10 min and 2 urgent mails sent, I managed to sink into the relaxed atmosphere…

This time we had two presentations on the agenda:

  • Elaine Rogers from Seefin Coaching spoke about Time Management, and
  • John Gleeson from the University of Limerick (UL) spoke about Technology Transfer.

I had my laptop with me, and instead of taking notes, I felt like twittering what was going on. Read from the bottom up if you want to make any sense of it!These are all the tweets under #LOCC during those hours!

The funny part was that Ger Hartnett read my tweet about Elaine’s slide with a list of time wasters, and asked if Twitter was on the list. I presented Elaine with the comment (in almost real time), and she confessed she avoided it on purpose… because herself spends a lot of time on Twitter.

  1. elainerogers @gabig58 @schregardus thanks 4 comments. Really enjoyed giving the talk 🙂#LOCC about 17 hours ago from TwitterFon
  2. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC Partner with researchers and research groups, make your skill sets known to UL, suggest interesting problems, tap into EI support about 19 hours ago from web
  3. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC The EI High-potential start-up program – http://short.ie/chd073 about 19 hours ago from web
  4. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC Successful UL Campus Companies: http://www.powervation.com/, http://www.stokesbio.com/, http://www.crescentds.com/ about 19 hours ago from web
  5. Ga09_normal gabig58 omg! 5 new followers in the last 20 min, just because I’m tweeting from #LOCC! Thank you! Hope my battery won’t fail me! about 19 hours ago from web
  6. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC For companies looking for collaboration with universities,have a look at Innovation Vouchers and Innovation Partnerships(EI funded) about 19 hours ago from web
  7. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC John Gleeson’s role at UL is to facilitate university – industry linkages and research commercialisation about 19 hours ago from web
  8. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC A bit of history – the establishment of UL in 1972, a picture of the White House and one of the Living Bridge about 19 hours ago from web
  9. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC John Gleeson from UL talking about Technology Transfer for the next 20 min. about 19 hours ago from web
  10. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @elainerogers Anecdote about a person changing her Facebook profile to check what ads would come up! about 19 hours ago from web
  11. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @elainerogers Try to fit your todo’s in one of the four quadrants: important/not important, urgent/not urgent about 19 hours ago from web
  12. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @elainerogers shares her personal planner layout. A wheel of life (http://short.ie/pft4kz) underneath helps her keep the balance. about 19 hours ago from web
  13. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC Are you a Fireman? Over-Committer? Acquarian? Chatty Kathy? Perfectionist? Find out yourself! http://short.ie/o7gbov about 20 hours ago from web
  14. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC if procrastination is taking up,and you spend your day on Twitter, FB,YouTube -your body is actually telling you it’s time for a break about 20 hours ago from web
  15. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC The mayonese jar story:you can put the golf balls in,the pebbles and the sand -but there’s always space left for a cuppa with a friend about 20 hours ago from web
  16. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @ghartnett No trace of Twitter on @elainerogers time wasters list. She confessed she avoided it on purpose…she’s a Twitter addict;) about 20 hours ago from web
  17. Mypicture_normal ghartnett @gabig58 Is Twitter on the list? #LOCC about 20 hours ago from TweetDeck
  18. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @elainerogers goes through a list of time wasters. Meetings very well represented;) about 20 hours ago from web
  19. Mypicture_normal ghartnett @gabig58 @elainerogers talk sounds interesting. Sorry I’m missing it. #LOCC about 20 hours ago from TweetDeck
  20. Ga09_normal gabig58 #LOCC @elainerogers from Seefin just started her talk. A few attendees’ opinions on time management. Elaine “time management is a myth” about 20 hours ago from web

And my battery did fail me in the end!

I had the chance to play an Akoha Thank you! card with Ted Vickey, for his talk on LinkedIn at Bizcamp.

And then I ran home to finish my slides for the Lero Industry Day on Monday.

In the evening, I went to an event organised by the Limerick County Enterprise Board: a talk by Brody Sweeney, the man behind O’Briens Sandwich Bars, titled “The real way to start up and stay in business”. The talk was the most inspiring event I went to lately! Brody spoke with extreme honesty about the problem he faced along the way, the sometimes unorthodox approaches he had to take, and what really counts. What really counts are people and hard work – and this struck a chord in me! We’ve heard the same thing from Patrick Collison at the OpenCoffee almost a year ago – there’s really hard work behind any successful business!

And the message we all took home was that there’s an opportunity in every apparently bad thing that’s happening to us – and the current recession is no exception! So I’ll try to get up smiling tomorrow morning, start with my best foot and see the hidden opportunities behind all this apparent doom and gloom everybody seems to be whining about!

May 07 2009 | Ireland and unconferences | 1 Comment »