Saturday, March 20, 2010

Public Speaking Support Group (+Giving Feedback)

It was the second time today when I participated in the Public Speaking Support Group meeting. What is this all about? Well, it's about a bunch of people who love speaking in public, who need these skills in their everyday work and who decided that it's time to do something. It's a diverse group, with different backgrounds, from different domains but all with a positive attitude, willing to go beyond "I'd like to overcome my fear of appearing in front of other individuals" and who actually make the step to become better public speakers.

During a session, held in a nice cafe in the Dorobanti area, with wifi, food and very good coffee, several participants stepped forward to present to the others something about them - a passion (like Tango for instance), a project (like Silent Hunter 5 :) ), something they encounter in their everyday job or something that animates them. It's not only about speaking in public, it's also about intriguing topics and mind opening. It's about speaking about what one loves, so all presentations come straight from the heart. After the talk, everyone gives feedback on how it went and also the participant is asked to share how he / she felt.

Today we talked about branding, about censorship, about presentation preparation and about giving feedback. Overall, it's a really great experience, that goes beyond public speaking into sharing expertise, personal development and networking with great and enthusiastic people.

Just to give you an example, today I talked about giving feedback. My presentation was not a technical one - teaching style - but rather explained my view on giving feedback and shared my thoughts on the matter. While I, myself, have to learn a lot about the subject (both in theory, and, especially, in practice) some of the points covered were:

a) Why it's important to give feedback:
- An opportunity to exchange information and build a communication bridge between all parties
- Self development - takes courage and self control to give an honest feedback
- Self esteem - feels good to tell what you think and do the right think
- Chance of improvement, chance of changing things
- Motivation through recognition
- Chance to find solutions not distribute guilt

b) How to give feedback
- Location and attitude (climate of confidence and trust)
- Positive state of mind, free of anger, willing to do good
- Know exactly WHY yo give feedback, what is the purpose
- Focus on facts and behavior and not on persons
- Importance of not being afraid of giving bad news
- Sandwisch technique
- Asking for feedback on feedback
- Balanced feedback

Looking forward to the next session, held two weeks from now in the same cafe, in the Dorobanti plaza.

Here is a link to a session that was video recorded a few weeks ago (I was not present then and it was not held in the nice cafe in Dorobanti but it's the only video reference I've got):

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some Management Style Conclusion at the End of the Project

• Rebellious spirit – I’d rather have a small revolution when I make a mistake then no reaction. A small revolution means people actually care. I’d rather have somebody to challenge from time to time “the way we work around here” than somebody who always does exactly what I say. Of course, it should be done in a respectful, polite and open manner and everyone be opened to discussion and mutual understanding. It does not mean lack of discipline nor insolence.

• Respect – Nobody knows better than somebody else. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion about anything and should not be criticized for that. We encourage team work. Rudeness, gossip and despise have no place in my team. Criticizing in public a person or an idea is also forbidden. When we judge, we judge facts and not persons.

• Thinking outside procedures – procedures are good as long as they serve the project. When they don’t, they should be dropped. I will never – ever punish someone for stepping out of the rules to try something better.

• Involvement and autonomy – My honest opinion is that everyone knows better than the manager what has to be done in his/her own field. Therefore, fostering autonomy and involvement is the only way to make the step toward great products. Obedience maybe will finish the project in time, but the quality bar will be low, the number of features minimal. I a word, mediocre.

• Encourage experiments and never punish failure as the only way to move forward and allow people to be courageous about their jobs.

• Work environment - play games, natural light, and fresh air – extremely important.

• Fun is made with fun. Involvement is obtained through fun and not through orders.

• Recognition - works much better than punishment

• Whiteboards work better than excel files at sharing information (at least they force you to be concise) – too bad I used them scarcely and only at the end of the project (maybe next time I'll do it better)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Silent Hunter 5 Finally Out! Champagne!

After many months (years) of hard work, we finally did it! Silent Hunter 5 is out and players all over the world are enjoying the game!

Beta Preview:

A consistent part of the team, the second day after Gold Master

Champagne! Cheers to the team!

A very beautiful and powerful community video: (Youtube, search "silent hunter stabizisback")

And on the cover of the Romanian computer magazines: