EppsNet Archive: Michele McCarthy

Teaching Computer Science: Say Your Ideas Out Loud


[I learned about Scary Ideas from Jim and Michele McCarthy — PE] I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “The main thing I wanted to tell you is that you’ve got to say your ideas out loud . . . “A scary idea is not an idea that’s going to scare people when they hear it, it’s an idea that you don’t want to say because you’re afraid of how people will react to it. Maybe they’ll think you’re crazy. “Here’s a couple examples of scary ideas. “You recognize the speaker in this video?” Everyone does. “Ok, let’s see what he has to say.” I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. “Keep in mind that he’s… Read more →



If you tolerate it, you insist on it. If you insist on it, it will be supplied. If you see a problem, you own it. If you ignore a problem, you’ll see more of it. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

The Best Measure of Truth


If you act as if something is true, you will shortly find out whether it is or isn’t. Any reduction of effort or increase of abundance you enjoy as a consequence of your new belief is the best measure of its truth. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

What You Say You Believe


What you say you believe isn’t as important as what you believe. And, obviously, you don’t believe what you don’t enact. Although describing, proselytizing, or otherwise articulating your beliefs in media other than your own acts can be fun, it is seldom very useful to you or anyone else. Babbling on about a value is a distraction from attaining it. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

If You Tolerate It, You Insist On It


Whenever you perceive that a virtue is missing or that a vice is present, you either tolerate the situation or try to change it. If you cannot “fix” it, you can at least withdraw your participation. The problem with tolerating the absence of virtue or the existence of vice is that this choice summons them into your life. You might tell yourself stories about the problem you perceive and your tolerance of it: That’s just the way it is in the real world. Others will not listen even-handedly to your perceptions and advice. It’s not your place to say truthful but difficult things. The problem lies in another department. You are not reading the situation correctly. You may not be able to discern beauty from ugliness or efficiency from waste, and your ignorance will be exposed. You’ll be rejected or ridiculed. You will look dumb if you ask for help… Read more →

In a Conference Room


Stop being false just because you’re in a conference room. Start actively engaging. For example, when you think an idea someone states, or one a group adopts, is a poor one, investigate it. Either you don’t understand it, or it is a poor idea. Stop everything, and find out why someone would say such a thing at this time. What was the purpose? What is the meaning of the contribution? Your teammates will have to live with your inquisitive engagement. You will be present, and you will engage them. You will see them. You will hear what they say. You will seek information about their emotional states, beliefs, plans, and skills. You will connect with other team members to the maximum extent possible. They will have to adjust to your strategy and its results or else not invite you–which would be fine. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your… Read more →



The principal effects of SharedVision derive from the group’s continuous validation that an object of compelling beauty and importance can be, and will be, achieved by its combined thinking and intense, concerted action. Attempting a goal like that typically found in a vision statement of this class of team requires substantial ambition. The SharedVision object is something that each team member would most likely see as impossible to attain on an individual basis, were it not for the ongoing validation and sustained support of the other team members. The object itself is — or at least becomes — loaded with supreme meaning for the team. Nothing is more important. The team’s commitment to attaining the SharedVision object is a passionate one. So animated is the team’s fervor that the only real difference between a shared delusion and a SharedVision is the rational, step-by-step behavior of those experiencing the vision, which… Read more →

Ask for Help


Asking in time of trouble means you waited too long to ask for help. Ask for help when you are doing well. — Jim and Michele McCarthy Read more →

Offer What You Have


Offer what you have, disclosing what you feel and think, connecting only with those who do likewise. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →



What actions you take, you believe in. What commitments you make, you keep. What resources you have, you use. What words you say, you believe to be true. What you create, you intend to be great. — Jim and Michele McCarthy Read more →

An Obstacle Course


Pretend that your project is an obstacle course and you want to get the biggest obstacles over with in the beginning. Here are some strategies for being on time or early: You want to know what all the obstacles are as soon as possible. You want to deal with the biggest, hardest obstacles first. You want to complete every obstacle as soon as possible, rather than “on schedule.” If you can go around an obstacle or skip it, do that. Your team has to stay on the same course. You don’t want part of your team on a different course. Getting your team aligned about the blocks and how to deal with them using the entire team IQ is much more efficient than “working hard” or pounding away at the problem. Look for the big ideas. Make sure team members aren’t going over obstacles that don’t exist. What’s the biggest… Read more →

The One Most Important Thing


The first rule of thumb I pull out of my hat for myself and for my clients is this. Before you start working every day ask yourself “What is the one most important thing I could do today?” This is different than what you have to do or what you should do. It is the most important thing you could do. The answer, if you think carefully, is usually something that requires courage and integrity and not a lot of time. For instance, resolving an ongoing issue with a coworker or talking to your boss about the future of your career or hiring a personal trainer. When you consider To Do lists, they are infinite. In other words, there is an infinite amount of stuff you could do. So the best leverage you can get is making sure you do the most important thing first. It seems to be a… Read more →

Schedule Crunching


Many wise people have said that what you put your attention on is what you will create around you. This is true in project management. If you concentrate on meeting the plan and slipping when big problems arise, you will, at best, ship on time, and more likely, you will ship late. . . . To change your results by changing the way you look at how your team uses time, you must put your attention on how to make tasks take the least time possible. Replace “sticking to the plan” with “looking for ways to decrease the time spent.” — Michele McCarthy Read more →

Don’t Argue About Things That Don’t Exist


Some ideas. . . . Don’t argue about things that don’t exist, like whether Save buttons should do this or that. Instead, code or prototype it and then team members use it themselves. You’ll be able to tell if it could be better when you use it instead of talk about it. . . .   One of the biggest blockers to team greatness is that members of team will have really good team diagnoses but they don’t say them out loud. So nothing can be done with the idea. You gotta say your great ideas out loud. . . .   Stay out of the content. The real issues are not about UI and architecture. Those are just the excuses to act out team neuroses. . . . If you resolve the interpersonal issues you won’t feel like you have UI or architecture issues.   Processes and planning will… Read more →

Foundations of Mediocrity: Scheduling


My primary complaint about scheduling is simple: that people are willing to proceed as if they can look into a crystal ball about the future. They act as if they can plan out the future. As if they can control the future. It’s the control part that really gets to me. It bugs me because it’s a false belief. It’s simply not true. You can not control the future, and the belief you can is just so destructive of creativity, teamwork, spontaneity and interaction among one another. This false belief is just a complete energy zapper, an unwholesome energy sink. — Michele McCarthy This transcript of a Jim and Michele McCarthy podcast is the best discussion of scheduling I’ve read today, maybe ever . . . Read more →

The Perfect Boss


In addition to the timely pay for acceptable services he offers, there are a few additional conditions that he imposes on you, if you are one of his subordinates. These are: What actions you take, you believe in. What commitments you make, you keep, What resources you have, you use. What words you say, you believe to be true. What you create, you intend to be great.   He knows that if you buy something from an expert, you are wise to let them to deliver it on their own. . . . He requires that the team credibly believe itself to be doing something great, and also insists that all involved relentlessly pursue – and always adopt – what they think is the best available idea. . . . He never allows people to say, “People say…” If unidentified “people” have something to say, they can come say it.… Read more →