Asterisk, and other worldly endeavours.

A blog by Leif Madsen

Posts Tagged ‘productivity

Interesting article about *not* tracking holidays at Netflix

The following is an interesting article about not tracking workers time spent at work, or on vacation, but rather tracking their productivity. As a consultant who doesn’t have a fixed set of hours in the day that I work, I tend to judge my productivity by the number of hours I get to bill each week (i.e. how productive was I working for customers, rather than playing Flight Simulator :)).

I haven’t tracked actual holidays for years now (since I started consulting full time out of school in 2003), and I’m not sure I ever had a job long enough prior to school that I received any sorts of benefits of holidays. Perhaps it’s just natural for me because of that, but this article reminds me of two things:

1) I should actually take some holidays when I need to recharge, and not feel like I *need* to be on-call 24/7/365

2) That other companies are really starting a paradigm shift about how they treat their employees work hours

It seems companies are starting to get it, and not bother with tracking the employees hours at work, which isn’t a very good indication of the amount of work they are getting done. A better method is likely to work in sprints and to allocate a certain number of tasks with priorities and estimated number of hours associated with each of those tasks. At the end of each sprint you determine what was good, what was bad, and what things didn’t get done (certain issues taking longer than expected, other issues going faster than expected, other issues with higher priority coming up, etc).

By tracking the productivity, the company isn’t at risk of everyone taking a salary and then screwing off for several months at a time. The accountability for productivity can keep that in check. The methods used for tracking productivity though are probably the most important part of implementing a non-policy on holidays such as this.

Written by Leif Madsen

2010/08/25 at 3:07 pm

MindMeister: Online mind mapping

Russell Bryant just sent me a link to a neat site that allows you to do online collaborative mind mapping: MindMeister. If you’re not aware of what mind mapping software does, it is a method to quickly and easily allow you to brainstorm ideas without getting in the way too much. It works by starting from a central node and breaking out in lines from there where you start with an idea or thought, then break that thought down further with additional lines from that node.

While working on the next edition of the Asterisk book, we spent a significant amount of time using FreeMind to brainstorm ideas of what we wanted in the book, then develop a detailed outline to the book which included the chapters, and what each of those chapters would contain. This way we can reference the mindmap while working on the book, and later review all our thoughts to make sure we covered all our original ideas. We continue to refine the mindmap on an almost daily basis while we come up with additional ideas and layout tweaks while working on particular chapters.

The website allows you to import mindmaps from FreeMind into the site, which is a valuable tool for those who have existing mindmaps. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Written by Leif Madsen

2010/08/10 at 9:03 am