All posts by clinhart

Rules and Masters

The following applies to many disciplines:

Rules are for apprentices so that they don’t stumble that hard.

A master doesn’t need rules.
A master will sometimes break the rules, and it leads to good results.

In fact, masters (or their disciples) write the rules.
But masters are aware that their rules are just a crude approximation of their wisdom.
(Disciples are not necessarily aware of that.)

These words came to me during my morning meditation.

The Inner Schizophrenia of Small Business Owners

One of the challenges of us small entrepreneurs is that we are our own investor, our own entrepreneur, our own manager and our own employee at the same time. And those four roles often tell us quite different things to do. And then there is our human side, which might also tell us different things to do. 🙂

Here’s a fictional example:

Inner Employee to Inner Manager:
“I need to go home now. My family needs me and it would be bad for my health to work late hours again.”
Inner Manager to Inner Employee:
“You know that we have a deadline today that’s of strategic importance for the company.”
Inner Employee to Inner Manager:
“Ok Ok, got it, I stay longer and finish it.
But this is an exception and the last time I do that.”
Inner Manager to Inner Employee:
“OK, thank you.” (to himself: “He’ll do that again and again. Ignore the whining.”)
Inner Investor to All:
“Hey guys, your business is a dog business. This will never get anywhere. That’s why you have to work so much. It’s time to exit and do something that makes real money.”
Inner Human to Inner Investor:
“My customers depend on me and count on me. They are my friends. I cannot let them alone.”
Inner CEO to Inner Investor:
“You have no idea about the detail work that’s necessary to get a new business off ground. If we close this “dog”-business we’ll likely be without any business. Investor, you don’t have enough money for us. We cannot start another business on a shoe-string capital like that.”
Inner Manager and and Inner Employee to the Investor:
“The CEO is right. It’s too much work to start another business. We don’t have enough capital for that. It’s even more work than the CEO is aware of.”
Inner Investor to All:
“There must be a way. What about cutting salary in half until this gets momentum?”
All others to the Investor:
“We are already working for half salary for 3 months now. We can’t go below that. Think about cost of living.”
Inner Wise Old Man:
“Let’s go to bed guys. Tomorrow morning we’ll meditate and think before any of these electronic devices, email and social media create fog in our brain. There must be solution to all of this.”

Next day in the morning

Inner Wise Old Man:
“Good morning guys. Listen to the Inner Human. He’s the most grounded of you guys. In our morning thinking-time we’ll find a way to make our already good business great for us and for our customers.

There is a star-potential in most so-called “dogs”. And BTW, most of our businesses are question-marks with star-potential. No idea why the investor is so pessimistic and calls them “dogs”. Look at the niches that we are in, instead of looking just at the broader market. Our niches are growing between 12% and 22% per year.

Also, there is much more to business than just the investor perspective. What about the higher mission of a business? What about the spiritual aspects of running a business? What about creating something that matters and improves people’s lives?

And why stop something existing when you want to start something new? 2017 is about combining things which traditionally looked like being mutually exclusive. So we keep the existing stuff and start something new on the side. Once this makes money, we can add employees to the business to handle the additional work.

Please note that we already run multiple businesses. Time to educate the Inner Investor of everything that’s going on here, in his language. He might have interesting insights for us, then.”

You see how many complex thoughts and conflict are already going on in the head of a small entrepreneur. And that dialog illustrates just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s why we cannot afford to watch the news or surf on Facebook or watch TV. Or engage in small-talk for hours. Our brain cannot afford to process rubbish like that.

That’s why we need our Digital Insanity Index to be as low as possible. That’s why programs like “30 day reboot” are so important for us. Nobody else understands that. And that’s fine.

Do you have a Real Life and Time for Thinking? (Or do you live in the Matrix/Internet all day?)

Now, there is an index to measure this.

It is called the Digital Insanity Index.
Created by Perry Marshall who is a famous marketing and business consultant.

One of his recent creations is the “30 day reboot” program which helps you to get you in control of your life again.

I have taken the Digital Insanity Index and my score is 329/1000 which means “well-managed”. This is after doing Perry’s “30 day reboot” program.

I can definitely recommend 30 day reboot. It has life-changing potential.

The next round of 30 day reboot starts on February 1st.

Kolbe Test as Burnout Prevention Tool

The Kolbe test is primarily used as a hiring and team-building tool.
It measures the mode of operation of a person, which is the instinctive and natural way to do work (such as getting new ideas versus implementing existing ideas).

In team-building it is important to have people with different modes of operation in a team. This ensures that the team members complement each other, so that the team is optimally effective.

In hiring it is used to determine the roles which a person is best suited to.

But there is an aspect of Kolbe that’s equally as important:
One of the often overlooked aspects of the Kolbe mode-of-operation is that it costs a person a lot of energy to work outside his/her natural work instincts.
Often people are not aware of their natural instincts. So they just assume that it is normal that work exhausts them. After all that’s conventional wisdom about work in our society.

Especially young people have so much life-energy that they can work against their natural instincts for years in a row, without noticing it. And they even may produce great results doing so.

But when a person works against their natural mode of operation for too long, he/she drains him/herself of energy. This can lead to burnout or other severe health problems.

Of course burnout can have many causes, and most of the time multiple causes are at work simultaneously. Usually, working conditions, and mental health issues of that person are the first reasons that are named. Prevention usually focuses on working conditions. This is fine, and necessary, but it is only a part of the picture.

If people are unconsciously working against their natural instincts for a prolonged time, then even the best working conditions cannot prevent a serious drain of energy.

Therefore I suggest to measure the natural mode of operation of all employees, and let them work in their mode of operation most of the time. Even one hour per day in the opposite of the natural mode of operation can cause a severe energy drain. So, you need to let them work 95% or more of their time in their natural mode of operation.

If an employee already has a burnout, or is close to it, then doing a Kolbe test can reveal an important cause. Once you know the cause, it is usually obvious what has to change.

BTW, this does not only apply to employees. Entrepreneurs also should be aware of their natural mode of operation and make sure that they run their company such that they only work in their natural mode of operation. They can delegate the rest, or choose a business that only needs their natural mode of operation. This makes them more happy and energetic, and the grumpy boss syndrome will melt away fast. Which creates a better climate in the whole company.

High Level Software Project Consoluting Service

From now on, I offer a high level Software project consulting service.

This means that I take a role outside of the in-the-trenches work of your project.
My contribution is to provide guidance and supervision, mostly at the meta level.
Being outside of the in-the-trenches work enables me to keep an overview and really see the whole thing.

E.g, I can help you with the following things:

  • Which people/experience/skills you need on your team
  • Helping you to become aware of the risks you are really taking when starting a software project. (and therefore hopefully you will assess whether you are really willing and capable to take that risk)
  • Helping you to find out whether a software project really solves the problem you are trying to solve with it.
  • Helping you to find out what you need to do before starting a software project even makes sense.
  • Helping you to explore options when a software project is off-track.
  • When involved on a regular basis: Help you to recognize the state and health of your software project.

In many cases my role will be to ask provocative questions that make you think about things you might not have been aware of before.

I am very confident that I can provide a valuable service, because:

  • I have 30+ years of experience in software development.
  • Experience with leading software projects. Both in my company and outside. With up to 10 people on the team.
  • Being directly involved in requirements engineering, and corrected the course of that when needed.
  • Extensive psychological knowledge and experience from 17+ years of psychotherapy and other activities.
  • Highly trained intuition when it comes to software projects. Including the human aspects of it.

My hourly rate for this service is US$ 200. (I may rise that fee later. So engage me while I am still at this level.)

We can do the consulting via Skype or on-site.
For on-site consulting you’ll also pay for travel cost and travel time.

All consulting has to be paid in advance.

More details provided on request. Just ask me.

New focus in my Business: Own products, High-level consulting, Physical Inventions

I have been preparing my business for a transition for some time now.

In short, I’ll focus and strengthen those areas of my business that work well and that are compatible with my mission and with my soul.
And I’ll phase out or stop the rest.

In details this means that I’ll focus more on the following:

  • I’ll focus more on my DemoRecorder-24×7 product. Which is a screen recorder for mission critical systems. This product is a long term committment. It is on the market since 20 years now. And I am determined to provide long term stability and maintenance for my clients.
  • I’ll create a high-level consulting service. Part of my mission is to help people to get answers to seemingly hard problems.
  • I’ll work on physical inventions. I already have written down many inventions. Now is the time to bring them to light and reap the harvest
  • I have another software product / business in the pipeline. But I keep this secret until the time is right to publicly announce this

This also means that I’ll reduce or stop the following activity:

  • I’ll stop the consumer version of DemoRecorder. It doesn’t make sense anymore to offer that. There are free software alternatives. And the market is so small that it does not make any economical sense to try to compete with these free software alternatives on a feature level.
  • I’ll stop writing software that I don’t own, i.e., I stop offering a software development service writing software for others. The writing is on the wall since about August this year that I should stop offering this service, even though I am very good at it.

    It doesn’t make sense economically anymore given all the other higher-level things going on in my business.

    And it also doesn’t make sense personally anymore. I am a creative person with a never ending stream of high quality ideas. It doesn’t make sense to implement other people’s ideas while I cannot keep up with getting my own ideas implemented. And my soul is sending me very intense signals that I should stop implementing other people’s ideas.

    Of course I’ll finish existing, active projects writing software for others. Emphasis on “active”.
    (I might even take small projects from time to time from customers that have treated me with respect, are calm and trustworthy and do not exert time pressure.)

    For customers who want to reactivate projects that they have suspended or stopped prematurely: I can offer my high-level consulting service to get you going with other developers, if needed.

Just returned from a trip to the US

I have just returned from a great business trip to the US.

In Chicago I have done several things to get a good and spiritually founded direction for my business.

I have done the following in Chicago:

  • a Sozo session with Margaret Nagib, which was an amazing experience.
  • have attended Perry Marshall’s “Memos from the head-office” seminar which was a great great great experience. It finally helped me to know what my mission is.
  • and more great things… (which I may or may not write about)

Chicagoland is a great place on earth.
It feels like what they call a “thin place”. Where you are more connected with God than in most other places.

People show that they love each other in all everyday transactions.
Great place, great people.

Then I went to another place in the US and visited a customer.
This is confidential, so I won’t write any more details about this here.

I’ll post more of the consequences of this trip.

I started Mentorship for OPW.

A while ago I have volunteered as a mentor of the OPW program.

The internship of my mentee, Asal Mirzaeva (Asalle ) has started a few days ago, and so has my mentorship. (Although we have already test-driven the mentor-mentee cooperation during Asalle’s qualification task.)

Her job is:

  • to replace manually written byteswapping code in the X-Server with code that is generated from the XCB protocol definitions,
  • and to add proper checks to the incoming protocol data, to fix some security problems.

Asalle is currently setting up the build and debug environment for building and debugging the X-Server. (Debugging the X-Server is quite tricky as you can imagine.)

Asalle is very talented and she already has a good understanding of how the protocol handling and byteswapping works in the X-Server, after reading the relevant source code.

Recording Human-Machine-Interaction: API-Recording vs ATG-Recording

The purpose of recording human-machine-interaction is that we can identify and fix causes of past problems so that these causes cannot happen anymore. These causes may either be on the human side or on the machine-side or in the combination of both.

In mission-critical systems you cannot afford to repeat (near-)accidents and (near-)disasters. Therefore you need to identify causes of such problems reliably the first time they happen. For that it is essential to use sufficient recording and logging that allows you to correctly reproduce all information required for such an analysis. Due to the importance of this, it is crucial to do this recording and logging correctly.

Recording human-machine-interaction is an essential component of a complete logging solution. Therefore it is important to do this correctly, too.

There are several methods for HMI-recording. (HMI is short for human-machine interaction.)

In this article I’ll pick two of them: API-recording and ATG-recording. These methods are both used in practice for recording human-computer-interaction. I’ll highlight the advantages and disadvantages of both methods, and provide a conclusion that may be surprising.

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