In the summer of 2008, MicroTools attended a leadership conference. The keynote speaker presented the following idea about having business axioms:
“Winning leaders have winning points of view – succinct, practical, portable leadership proverbs that help them arbitrate decisions and rouse troops to action.” -Bill Hybels
The following represents MicroTools’ Business Axioms, which we use in our every-day approach to business.
- Remember, if it’s not tested it doesn’t work – Early on in our lives as engineers, we found that the one little change to our design, our code, or document – that seemed so obvious – and should just work – didn’t. This axiom has forced us to heighten our attention to test, test and test some more. Unfortunately, we have found that even if it is tested, it still may not work!. For more, see this article.
- Show that People Matter – As engineers, we can easily get caught up with the technical challenges of a project, and we neglect the people in our lives. Our business decisions not only consider the impact on the project, but also the implications for our co-workers, their families, and our customers.
- Ask for help – Self-reliance and independence are great traits to have in an employee. But we all need to know when to ask for help. Often, we are absorbed in some question or problem when the answer is just a phone call or office away. Maintain an environment where we can freely admit our weaknesses and lack of knowledge and ask for help.
- Two heads are better than one – In our field, the industry has attempted to improve software engineering efficiency through the process of “Extreme Programming.” If you are designing something complex, you are encouraged to work together. For more information, see the links at: Process Improvement.
- Document it – Many decisions, ideas, and design details feel obvious when we first think of them and therefore we do not record or document them. What is obvious to us today may become obscure (or forgotten) next week. So, when in doubt, write it out. Write down the following:
- Specs: Key specification issues
- Lessons: Problems you encountered and how you fixed them
- Promises: Commitments you made to one another and to customers
- Decisions: Design or configuration choices you make and why
- Pray about it – About half of Americans pray every day. For best results, decisions should be bathed in prayer – for guidance, for wisdom, for insight, for direction.
- Review Commitments – In the course of doing business or working on a project, we will have to make commitments, decisions, and agreements. Follow through with those obligations by routinely reviewing them and providing feedback to the customer.
- Share the Insight – With the fast pace of technology and engineering, there is always more to learn. Share what you discover with the rest of the team and help to build our collective knowledge.
- Keep in Touch – We all have a number of responsibilities which can affect our work schedule. Remember to let us know when you are:
- going to be late
- leaving early
- going to a customer site
- Focus Efforts on Tools not Toys – As engineers, we love to invent and create. Sometimes we can create a little tool or buy a little gadget to help us. However, we should always ask the question: “Will this tool actually save money? Will it shorten the schedule?”
- Don’t buy electronics hardware until you need it– The price and performance of electronic equipment change so rapidly that in order to have the latest version or model, schedule hardware acquisitions later in a project.
- Create value for our customers – Developing Software and Hardware systems can cost a tremendous amount of money. We need to perform our work efficiently, effectively, and in such a way that our customers know they receive excellent value from us.
- Don’t Sweat Impossible Schedules – We work in an environment where time-to-market can make or break a company. When our customer succeeds, we succeed. In spite of making every effort to plan for the unexpected delay, schedules can slip and deadlines can loom. This can create stress all around. We need to remember that there’s more to life than meeting schedules. We do not want our employees kept awake at night due to deadline nightmares.
- 40 hours pay for 40 hours work – Unlike many companies in our industry, we do not expect our employees to routinely work overtime. We value the employee’s whole life and strive to minimize the need for overtime. There is more to life than work alone. We do expect efficient and effective work – we expect our employees to work hard during the 40-hour week.
- You are not alone – Even though we want our employees to take an entrepreneurial approach to their jobs – taking risk and making decisions of import – you are not alone. We are a team.