Do Software Developers need Soft Skills Part-4

…… or do they just need Technical skills. Many studies have shown that Soft skills along with technical skills are necessary for professional growth. From a company and services point of view, groups with better soft skills communicate better, gel together and create robust products. Let us go through the soft skills that we think are required to create beautiful software.

Communication

What is communication? Communication is the exchange of thoughts, ideas and emotions. Communication may be Verbal, Non Verbal, Written or through any other medium such as a painting or an info graphic.

Technical warriors often think (some even take pride in it) that they do not need communication skills. They think that their actions (coding, programming or any other technical skill) is enough for them to progress in the professional world. Nothing could be farther from truth.

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Before we dive into why communication skills are critical for software developers, let us read some inspiring and revealing quotes about communication.

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And on a philosophical note:

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Software is mostly built by Humans and for humans (Exception being when devices or machines talk to each other but even then humans play a large part in it). Therefore you have to have People skills.

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Why do Software developers/Testers need Communication skills?

  • Software is almost never built in isolation. Good products need a team and a team needs communication.
  • You need communication skills to understand the specifications, team lead instructions.
  • Communicating with testers. Understanding the bugs that testers have thrown up and resolving them.

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  • Interacting with team members. Communicating how your module fits into the overall scheme of the product.pictureblog5-10
    • Excellent communication skills are needed for training and leading other team members.

     

    • “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other.”

     

    – Bill Gates

     

    • Understanding and creating technical documents and manuals.
    • Making presentations in front of business leaders and management.
    • Interacting with clients. Understanding their problems and resolving them. Often clients have a different perspective than the technical team. If developers don’t have empathy, it is difficult to understand where the customer is coming from and chaos prevail.

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  • Interacting with UI/UX designers.
  • Participating in Brainstorming sessions and code reviews.

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  • Facing interviews: Interviewers generally make a decision within the first few minutes of interview. How you have walked to your chair, how you have greeted them, how you are sitting, are all communicating your confidence and attitude to the interviewer. Secondly how you approach a problem given during the interview is far more important than how you code!
  • Learn another Language: ENGLISH Go Through this video. It’s a little long but well worth it.
  • Communication is essential when you want to avoid fires rather than fight them.
  • Communication is essential to avoiding internal conflicts.

 

Finally Programming skills are easy to acquire. There are any number of tools to learn coding, frameworks to apply your learning. But to be a good communicator you would need to be diligent, deliberate, thoughtful and empathetic.

Cheerio and never lose a chance to communicate or to make a presentation!

Watch out this space for the fifth soft skill needed by software developers. Till then cheerio.

 

 

 

Do Software Developers need Soft Skills Part-3

…… or do they just need Technical skills. Many studies have shown that Soft skills along with technical skills are necessary for professional growth. From a company and services point of view, groups with better soft skills communicate better, gel together and create robust products. Let us go through the soft skills that we think are required to create beautiful software.

Focus

What is Focus?

Focus is the ability to concentrate on a single task without interruptions or delays and without getting distracted.

Some Famous Quotes on Focus

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Will Durant

“If you focus long enough on mastering a certain skill, you will one day be able to excel in this particular area. However, if you’re not focused and switch from one random activity to another, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever master what you’re doing. Instead, Will Durant encourages us to persist with whatever we’re doing until we excel in it.”

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Zig Ziglar on focusing all you have on a specific target

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”

Jacqueline Leo on maintaining your focus

“One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship.”

Zen quote on focusing on the present activity

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

This excellent proverb is not only about walking and eating. It describes a general approach to life. The proverb encourages us to focus all our attention on the present activity. It tells us not to do a great number of activities simultaneously, but to do one activity with the greatest attention instead

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Anil Ambani on the cultivation of concentration

“Concentration can be cultivated. One can learn to exercise willpower, discipline one’s body and train one’s mind.”

 

No matter how difficult it may seem in the beginning, we must never forget that it is possible to increase one’s willpower and concentration. It takes time and patience to cultivate these skills, but if you are not discouraged by difficulties and challenges, you will affect beneficial changes in your entire life.

Why is it so difficult to Stay Focused on the Task at hand?

In this day and age of Instant messaging, facebook, twitter and smart phones, distractions are lurking just around the corner to pounce and ruin your concentration. A single WhatsApp message can destroy your train of thought and ruin your current focus. These are some of the common distraction sources while working

  • E Mail Clients:
  • Tweets
  • Chat Clients
  • Facebook updates
  • Instant Messaging
  • Requests for a new ‘Urgent’ Task
  • App notifications
  • Browsing the net. Multiple open browsing windows
  • Day dreaming
  • Not being clear about the task at hand
  • Procrastination
  • Doing work that is not urgent. Not setting priorities.

Why is it Critical for Software Developers to stay focused?

While it is important for all workers not to be distracted (stay focused) while working on a task, for software developers it is critical. Coding is as much of an art as it is science and programmers tend to juggle a lot of details at the same time. The mind is constantly buzzing, evaluating and choosing from amongst these details. Any distraction most likely break this chain of thought and coders have to start all over again to get to the point they were at before the interruption. This is famously called the ‘Context Switching Cost’.

In cricketing parley batsmen often refer to ‘Being in the zone’. Sunil Gavaskar, the famous opener once mentioned tht he was often surprised that he had reached a century because he was so oblivious of scores and runs scored. His focus was entirely on facing the next ball !

  • Distractions delay task completion
  • Distractions increase the number of bugs
  • Task delays cause mental stress and increase frustration levels
  • Increased stress can lead to burnouts
  • Distractions lead to insecurity
  • As per a Wall Street Journal study a typical distraction costs 23 minutes
  • According to Game Developer Magazine, an average programmer is likely to get just one uninterrupted two-hour session in a day
  • Developers need more time to ‘get back in the zone’ than a typical worker. Teach your Non Tech coworkers why you need to stay in the zone.
  • Software development is a team game. You don’t want to become the ‘weak link’ in the chain.

How to avoid Distractions (While Coding)?

While there are some distractions that are difficult to avoid (An SOS from the Boss!), there are measures that the software developers can take to minimize interruptions.

  • Close all E Mail Clients or set a timer to periodically check your Email.
  • Put your Instant Messaging Apps to Not available or Do Not Disturb.
  • Set your phone to silent mode
  • Wear Head Phones when you simply can’t be interrupted.
  • Prioritize your tasks for the day.
  • Plan and gather as much information as possible before commencing the task.
  • Break your large tasks into smaller subtasks.
  • Evaluate when a request for a new task comes in. Unless it is very urgent politely decline for the day.
  • If you have no choice but to interrupt your task, comment your code with all essential information that you will need when returning to the task.
  • If possible code at the time when there are least interruptions. Become a night owl.
  • Internet is a killer of focus. Block nonessential tempting websites
  • Meditate
  • Use timers (Pomodoro Technique) for short periods of time (20 to 30 minutes). Watch this short video.
  • Be honest to yourself and others.
  • Don’t Give up.

Watch out this space for the fourth soft skill needed by software developers.

Cheerio. Happy Coding!

 

 

 

Do Software Developers need Soft Skills Part-2

1 ). Ability to work in a team

Beautiful software is almost always build by great teams rather than by an individual’s effort. Software of any meaningful size needs collaborative effort. After a point all software will grow beyond where it needs a team.

Teamwork is one of the most important if not THE most important soft skill needed by software developers. No great team company will hire you if you are short on Team skills. Great Team brings psychological safety .You will not be ridiculed or laughed at when you speak up …Even if you are wrong.

Team Work also teaches us Empathy. You will not be allowed into the best teams if you are low on empathy skills.

Everybody has a role in the team. You don’t want to be holding the team back.

 

2 ). Quotes on Team Work

 “There is No. I in team but there is in WIN”.   Michael Jordan

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 “We must all Hang together or Most assuredly we shall hang separately”. Ben Franklin

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“None of us is as smart as all of us”.  Ken Blauchard

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“Teams share the burden and divide the grief”: Doug Smith

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“It is amazing how much you can achieve, when it does not matter who gets the credit”. H.S. Truewan 33rd President of USA

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“The whole is greater than the Some of the parts”. kurt Kofflka, German  Psychologist

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Why Software Developers need to be a Good Team Player

  • Because almost all beautiful software are built by great teams rather than by individuals.

 

  • After a point all software grow beyond the point where it needs a team.

 

  • Team bring Psychological Safety. One can take risks AND be wrong without being ridiculed.

 

  • Teamwork brings early feedback and improves the output quality.

 

  • Working Alone reduces learning.

 

  • Working in a Team insulates your product from the ‘Bus’ factor Somebody leaves the company, somebody joins the company, somebody is sick, somebody is late coming in, somebody goes on maternity leave…….. Reduces the risk factor. The project goes on.

 

  • Working in a team increases accountability: Peer Pressure ensures that you put your best foot forward. You don’t want to let down people whom you respect and whose respect you desire.

 

  • Slower project Moments if working alone reduces Morale. A Single ‘Stall’ halts the project.

 

  • The lows of a project are more demoralizing when working alone. Sharing boosts Morale. Highs of a project are more motivating when working in a Team. Source: Forbes.com 

    Watch out this space for the third soft skill needed by software developers. Till then cheerio.

Do Software Developers need Soft Skills Part-1

…… or do they just need Technical skills. Many studies have shown that Soft skills along with technical skills are necessary for professional growth. From a company and services point of view, groups with better soft skills communicate better, gel together and create robust products. Let us go through the soft skills that we think are required to create beautiful software.

1 ) What is adaptability?

Adaptability is art of recognizing changing circumstances and the change oneself to accordingly.picture1

2). Quotes about Adaptability

“When you are finished changing, you are finished” Ben Franklin. Founding Father of United States of America.

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It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change Charles Darwin.

“A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it” Chinese proverbs.

3) Some Interesting Facts about Adaptability

Sachin Tendulkar attributes his longevity to his adaptability to the changes happening in the game of cricket.

Kodak Company could not adapt to digital camera revolution and died.

There were No color TV in India before 1982. Now there are no B/W TV’s

There were No cell phone in India before 1995. Now we cannot imagine life without our smart phones.

Facebook did not exist 10 years earlier. Now we cannot live 10 minutes without updating our Facebook Profile.

Twitter did not exist 10 years earlier.

4.) Why do software Developers need adaptability?

                Because Project will suddenly change track.

                Because timeline will suddenly change.

                Because your team will change.

                Because technology will change midway the project.

                Because clients will suddenly change requirements.

                Because your target audience will change in between the project.

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         Watch out this space for the next soft skill needed by software developers.

Emotions: the Center Piece of CX

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You have done everything right by the customer

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Given your best service

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Solved all their problems

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But still the Customer is not ‘Happy’ with you.

Sounds Familiar ? Are you missing something ? Well yes you could be. The Key word is ‘HAPPY’ which is an emotion. Have you made sure that the customer is emotionally engaged with you ?

BTW if you are still in doubt that Customer experience is key to your Brand Value, read our post on why you can not ignore CX
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It so happens that when we solve a problem for a customer, we are engaging with her on a particular touch point. But what about the complete journey. Each Customer is Unique, Each Journey is unique and a lot of time our ‘Rational’ Strategies do not work uniformly.

Customer experience is an album and each Customer is a different song with its own pitch and tempo and EMOTION. We need to listen to each song carefully and understand its nuances.

In a recent Forrester blog and podcast, analyst Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian outlines “Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences with your firm? Customers’ emotions can damage — or improve — customers’ perception of the overall experience and your firm’s ability to grow.

Customers’ emotions affect whether you’ll lose or keep them, whether they will buy more or less from you, and whether they will spread good or bad word of mouth about your company.”

So let us define why Emotions are important: There is really only one reason

Emotions Drive Loyalty…or lack thereof. Positive emotions enhance retention, higher purchase value and a word of mouth that leads other customers to your brand.

On the contrary Negative Emotions will drive Customers away from your brand, Lead them to Bad mouth and dissuade other potential customers to buy from you and move over to your competition.

“Because these emotions last longer, they are, therefore, likely to have a bigger impact and be more likely to be remembered than those associated with wowing or delighting customers.”

Which Positive emotions should we as business people be gunning for :

Pleasant Surprise Happiness  Gratitude
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And which ones are to be avoided:

Anger Frustration Disappointment
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Above all we have to get out of the our mold of Internal Business Strategy and get into the shoes of the Customer.

How do we Measure emotion. Now that is the Topic of another Blog. Keep reading. Cheerio !

11 Challenges to creating a Beautiful Customer Experience

You know that Customer experience is critical (Read our post here:). But why the hell is it so difficult to achieve. We will give you 11 Challenges in Creating a beautiful User Experience.

  1. What exactly is User Experience: You have heard of UX and UI.You want to have the best customer experience. But what is CX ? Here are a couple of definitions: One definition By Forrester Research “Customer experience is how customers perceive their interactions with your company “. Another definition by ISO is “A Person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use of a product, service or system” So the first challenge is to be absolutely clear about what CX is. To read more go to the Mckinsey Report.
  2. It needs a shift in Strategy and Culture. Great CX needs great employee engagement. A whole ecosystem of customers, employees, partners and operating environment needs to be one one page.
    It is complex
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  3. It is a massive effort requiring the coming of all departments on one page. It also demands Modern Architecture.infrographics-complex-cx
  4. Customer expectations have gone up dramatically. 72 % of Customers now expect a response on social media within 1 Hour. 71 % of customers expect companies to value their time according to a forrester study. But according to the same study only 17 % companies actually do that.Companies now have to be available 24/7, very accessible, across different mediums, involved and offer personalized, Tailored solutions: Source: Pwc. This is no Mean feat !
  5. Expectation on Mobile platform. 90 % of customers say they have had a poor experience on the Mobile Platform. First of all we need to reassess the importance of Mobile Internet. Read the article by Benedict Evans where he refutes the theory that Mobile is a subset of Internet. He actually concludes that Mobile IS the Internet. Now decide how important YOUR Mobile Platform Customer Experience needs to be. It’s a No Brainer ! Right.
  6. Omnichannel Challenge: According to a Gartner survey, It is just not enough now to have a decent website. Phone, Chat, Email, Mobile Apps all need to be just as good.images-omnichannel
  7. Barriers to switch to your competitor are very low. And Patience Levels of the customers are at an all time low. 61% of consumers take their business to a competitor when they end a business relationship. 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to a single poor customer experience. $83 billion is the cost of poor customer service in the US. Very Frightening.
    A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs.price or product related: (BAIN & CO).


  8. Sharing Challenge : Customers rely on experiences and reviews by complete strangers ! Speed of sharing is lightening fast. A bad CX can go viral within minutes.”If you make a mistake, own it and move on quickly to fix it“: Tooey Courtemauache images_viral
  9. ‘How to measure emotions’ Challenge : According to a Forrester study, we are biologically wired to be more sensitive to Negative Experiences than to Positive Experience. In a survey about Customer experiences, out of the three E’s, Effectiveness of the solution, Ease with which it was delivered and the Emotions it generated, Emotion was by far the Number One factor for companies to be Loyal to the solution provider.The Challenge here is to know What e Metrics to use. Emotion measuring techniques are beyond the scope of this blog. But suffice to say that this challenge exists.
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  10. R R R C Challenge . Relevance, Responsiveness, Reliability and Convenience. In a Webinar at the Customer Edge show , Dr. Volker Hildebrand, Global VP of CEC Solution Management, SAP, pointed out these four parameters. e.g if you get 100 E Mails every day in your Inbox, 98 of them may be completely irrelevant. If you get a coupon for Red Wine at the checkout counter and you are a Wine Hater, it is irrelevant to you ! Be reliable. Keep your promises. ALWAYS. Be Responsive. No easy task in these days of 24/7 online activity and customers wanting a response within 5 minutes of posting a query, complaint, review or a suggestion.
  11. DIY Challenge : Customers control their experience by DIY. 73 % do it by phone, 68 % by E Mail, 58 % by Chat, 37 % by Twitter, 76 % by FAQ and so on and so forth. They DO NOT wait for you to engage with them. They do it on their own time, they expect you to value their time and they expect you to respond in matter of minutes. On top of that they are On ALL the time. You better be ready to catch that nugget of information (And respond to it) that comes from the customer Anytime, Anywhere.