(Guest Post) Be a butler *not* a developer

Advice for developers working with traders

By Jibreel Hussain

The perfect butler knows what the master of the house needs before he even knows he needs it himself. The same principle applies for developers working on the desk. In other words, he is empathetic.

Recognizing and implementing the needs of the traders is the difference between a good develop and a great developer.

Don’t ask for permission, JFDI.

If the trader is mandated to use a particular utility and is forced to book the trade in two places, automate it.

If a trader is doing a redundant task, automate it. 

How to visualize Spectacularly Hideous IT Projects(v0.3)


I am very good at producing PowerPoint presentations. I have been called a PowerPoint Jedi and Packman by some of my colleagues.  I have an eye for color, have an appreciation for not overdoing drop shadow etc. My power point decks are more aesthetically pleasing than most commercial websites. Powerpoint/Keynote have their place.  So its from a place of love that I say, PowerPoint is waste.

I shudder to think how much money is spent a year on creating PowerPoints. They are also terrible at enabling meaningful dialogue.

Having said all that, PowerPoint is useful for a couple of things:

  • Communicating the presenters/ view of the world(think Steve)
  • A teaching tool
  • Making the presenter/organization look polished
  • That "one" slide in each deck...

The one slide that people flip through and invariable stop at. The one slide that tells you something useful and provokes real dialogue. That is the slide the bored senior manager flips to at the start of the meeting and glare at while pretending to hear what the presenter is rattling on about. That's the slide I'm talking about.

I try to avoid  try rather to create that one slide that tells us something useful and provokes real dialog. Here are some thoughts on how to create that one picture.

Random thoughts/Notes

  • Spectacularly Hideous IT Projects
  • Contract game
  • Conways law
  • Larman's Law
  • Sequence diagrams to visualize multiple hops
  • If it doesnt shout, try again
  • sometimes i start with the question you are trying to answer
  • many times I collect the data and put it down on a page and see what it tells me
  • start with a picture
  • refactor the image. start with a strawman, lipstick last....
  • many times you cant vocalize the elephant in the room, but thats not to say you can draw the elephant
  • a good picture is worth a thousand powerpoint slides
  • Visualize pet projects
  • The major value add of a consultant is that they can call out the elephant in the room(what cant be said and recommend that it be killed(what cant be recommended).
  • Visualize value not features
    • Draw the quarterly view
  • Visualize trajectory
  • Visualize where people are
  • The one pager
  • Templates
  • Make it look good
  • Great examples
  • Give context
  • Visualize context size
  • Storey board by Jeff Patten
  • Don't give opinions/recommendations 
  • Gather the facts through the interview process
  • Tell one story per Picture
  • Always keep in beta
  • Visio is brilliant at this
  • Call outs
  • Examples
  • I'm really good at creating powerpoint presentations...really good. i'm called "pack man" in the organization i'm currently in. in my experience, there is always one slide that "sticks" within every presentation sometimes you have to create a 30 page presentation to get to that one slide. my belief now is that you can create that one slide without having to create a "big deck"
  • great examples:
    • http://blog.visual.ly/12-great-visualizations-that-made-history/
    • http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671605/how-a-civil-war-soldier-invented-the-american-infographic#7
  • good infographic http://webdev-il.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/infographics-101.html
  • Amazon elimated powerpoint: http://conorneill.com/2012/11/30/amazon-staff-meetings-no-powerpoint/