Posts Tagged ‘honesty’


Stop, Collaborate and Listen

by Joe Dollar-Smirnov



Collaboration is at the heart of innovation.

Newtons law, Einsteins general theory of relativity, the lightbulb and the kitchen sink are all examples of great things that have come out of some sort of collaboration. The benefits of collaboration are clear, yet the actual practice is often underestimated and difficult to get going. Here are 5 top tips for ensuring collaboration flourishes.


1/ Humble pie

Everybody’s opinion is valid. Allow people to feel comfortable in the environment to speak up if they feel they can add to an idea and collaborate. Great ideas come from all levels of the organisation from intern to CEO.


2/ Peer to peer

Treat everyone with the same level of respect.


3/ Brainstorm

Get your ideas out. Vocalise, share, sketch, write and build. Play. Be quick, the more ideas you get out of your brain the sooner you’ll start to see real value and inspiration. Ideas will feed new ideas.


4/ Constructive critique

Don’t be rude. The only people who have an excuse to get defensive in a critique are the people who have not had much practice. If you’re an old hand then be the one to accept criticism on the chin and move on. Learn.


5/ Dispose of ideas (your own ones!)

If an idea isn’t really working don’t dwell on it. Throw it away. Repeat.


Sorry Bootstrap, it’s over between us

by Stephen Fulljames


I’m sorry Bootstrap but things just aren’t working out between us. I think we should have a break from each other.

To be honest, it’s not me, it’s you.

When we first met I was kind of infatuated. You were so opinionated and successful, persuasive even, so many of friends couldn’t stop talking about you. It was easy to fall head over heels and looking back I think I let my heart rule over my head.

With you everything felt so straightforward. Prototyping was quick and easy. We put admin screens together in a snap, smiling and laughing the whole time. I began to think there was nothing you couldn’t do, I started to let you lead me.

But then I looked around and realised you’d been seeing other people. It was a real shock.

Everyone was starting to think the same way and it was all because of you. You made such a compelling case for the way that things should be that everyone, myself included, just kind of went along with it. Looking back I realise now that you were too controlling. If a great design didn’t quite fit to the way you wanted to do things, I would just change it to make you happy. It was a lot easier.

Then I came to realise, that wasn’t what I wanted after all. I mean, the designers I work with really know what they’re doing. They’re the ones I should listen to first, and if you can’t help me in the way I need you to then I guess it’s time to move on.

I got on just fine before you came along, and I know that I can get back to how things used to be without you. I’m sure I’ll be happier out there on my own, CSS is a wide world and there’s new stuff to see all the time. I just think I’d rather make those discoveries for myself rather than have you colour them.

Don’t be sad, Bootstrap, I’m sure you’ll find someone else. Just be good to them, okay?

Photo: prorallypix, Creative Commons licenced.



Ethical Consulting: a Red Badger principle

by Cain Ullah

Now that Red Badger is up and running, I thought I would write my first blog on one of the underlying principles of Red Badger. Ethical Consulting.

If you do a search on Google for Ethical Consulting you will get in your top 3 search results, a change management company, a company called ethical consulting and some guiding principles of ethical consulting defining what ethical behaviour is. When I mentioned ethical consulting to my friends and family, their first instincts were that Red Badger only delivered software for International Development programs, charities or green sustainability!

Ethical Consulting can mean different things to different people dependent on the context. Red Badger did not define the term but to us it has a specific meaning.

In my experience of running projects, if the relationship is ever fraught with the client, the majority of the time it is not normally down to the incompetence of the project team or in fact the client. However, projects can run over time, over budget and a blame culture ensues. To the project team, the client can appear unreasonable because they want everything and they want it yesterday. The client on the other hand feels they are not getting value for money. In this situation pressure builds, relationships can become difficult, morale is affected and as a result, so is productivity.

If you look at the underlying reasons for this, it should be fairly easy to resolve. The issues outlined above are, more often than not, a symptom of behaviour that started at the very beginning of the project lifecycle. Sales. Most companies in this business are driven by margin. The internal sales process is masked from the client and Sales staff are encouraged to up the rates of each resource to as high as they can get away with. They are pushed to be aggressive in this approach by being given large commission incentives on the size of the sale and not on the final margin. This results in sales (as large as possible as well please!) being driven by personal gain of the sales force to make as much money as possible for themselves as well as the company they work for. Once the project team tries to deliver, even with the aid of lean methodologies, it is not surprising that the client is ready to play hardball.

Now to Red Badger’s approach…

Our intention is to be transparent and fair from the start. We want our clients to feel like they are going to get value for money before we have delivered anything. We want to make a profit too, don’t get me wrong, but we want relationships that are built on a mutual understanding of what both our clients and us want. If we can work together from the beginning so that we are already working as a collaborative team built on fairness by the time it gets to delivery, it will benefit everyone. We can then leverage Scrum to empower the client in deciding what gets delivered, when. The client gets great value for money, the relationship is built on honesty, the working environment is infinitely better, morale is high and productivity and quality is increased as a result. This is our idea of the meaning of Ethical Consulting.

Great software is delivered. A solid relationship is built.


ReWork: A great way to spend a fiver

by Stuart Harris

ReWork I’ve just read "ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals.  It cost £5.49.  Not bad for a refreshing confirmation of our philosophy at Red Badger.  And lots of new insights and succinct rationale for doing business in a radically different way.  It takes about 3 hours to read – an investment that will pay out over and over.

Some of the ideas I found most interesting in the book are around building a business that is open.  Speaking, blogging, tweeting, writing, teaching, making videos.  About everything you do.  A behind-the scenes documentary, if you like.  Lots of progressive companies do this now and it’s incredible, today, how easily the Internet enables us to do this.

We’ve talked about this a lot as a team and are committed to sharing all our experiences with the community – good and bad, warts and all.  This “open book” policy fit’s well with our belief that honesty is the best way to do business.  Everyone wins.  A blog, for example, is a great place to talk about ideas and to crystallise them in your own head.  It forces you to research an idea thoroughly and to fully understand everything about it.  Building a community by giving away product, IP and knowledge is also a win-win, because it builds strong brand loyalty and a ready made channel for super effective marketing.

ReWork introduced me to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi which describes an aesthetic that is derived from the characteristics of being "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".  In essence it’s the cracks and scratches that show you what’s really inside and allows the observer to appreciate the object for what it really is.  Beauty, derived from honesty. And openness. The lines in our faces show the world how we have laughed and cried. Shoot me if I ever have botox!

I recently enjoyed working for 2 years at Conchango which was known for it’s early adoption of Agile principles.  The name Conchango is derived from “continuous change” which embodies the wabi-sabi values of impermanence and incompleteness.  It was a real company, with an honest surface that reflected it’s core.  Small companies can do that well.  When it was taken over by a large multinational its wabi-sabi was lost.  It’s much, much harder for big companies to be agile, open and honest.

Papering over the cracks is the way that most businesses today operate.  They create a facade that is sterile, plastic and opaque – it doesn’t let the real company through.  The authors of ReWork remind us of how many times we have waited in a call queue and been told (by a machine) that we are important to them.  And yet they are willing to let us waste half an hour of our life waiting in a queue.  Just be honest with us, tell us you are under-resourced and call us back.  We would rather see the crack.  Then we can see your beauty, trust you and enjoy doing business.