This is my final post in this series on how to be a wildly successful small business programmer. We’re going to do a quick review of everything I’ve talked about in this series. And then I’ll leave you with some parting words to help you continue your journey and show you where we’re going next.
A summary of how to be a wildly successful small business programmer:
I defined small business programming and enumerated the challenges and the opportunities of working as a small business programmer.
I encouraged you to make sure your job is secure and that you are ready to learn how to be a wildly successful small business programmer.
I argued that 10x programmers have a different mindset than regular programmers. 10x programmers view their whole company as fair game for optimization. They dare to look outside their assigned role to understand the bigger picture. They find the place where their effort will have the most effect and focus on maximizing the value of their contribution to their company.
The Theory of Constraints is a powerful tool in the hands of a 10x programmer. It allows you to quickly focus in on the part of your company that is holding everything back and helps you figure out what you need to change to make things better.
I showed you how to use the Theory of Constraints on yourself to increase your effectiveness by working through an example.
The best way to find the constraint in your company is to figure out how it really works and then use a current reality tree to find your constraint. The second best way to find your constraint is the use the 5 whys problem solving technique.
Pretend that your company is a computer program and you’re just poking around trying to figure out how it works and where the performance problems reside, if that helps put it in familiar terms.
The point is to get you thinking about your company as a system and look for the constraint. You need to get familiar with parts of your company not related to programming. And start to see the bigger picture.
As a 10x programmer, you need to know how to change yourself and how to help other change. We are drawn to radical change–also called innovation–because it’s dramatic and we intuitively think that’s the best way to change. But continuous improvement wins almost every time.
Your goal is to become a trusted source of ideas and information for the decision makers in your company. You want them to seek your opinions and ask for your help on their important decisions because you have a reputation for having great ideas. It is only from this position that you’ll have the influence to work on your company’s constraint.
Separating your actual constraint from multiple possible constraints is hard. This post helps you sort things out and chart a path forward when you are faced with multiple possible constraints.
Unless you are an owner or a senior manager, attacking your constraint directly is probably impossible. You’ll need an indirect approach where you can improve your skills, influence, and understanding of your constraint. This post presents you with the minimum requirements for your first project, some factors to consider, and some things to avoid when choosing your first project.
If you tailor your pitch to your boss, really understand your idea, take responsibility for the outcome, practice, and execute well, you’ll have a good chance of getting your first project approved. This post should get you on the right track.
Your next steps to becoming a wildly successful small business programmer…
Hold onto your 10x programmer mindset and keep moving towards your constraint. These are the two most important things you can do.
Some people get discouraged when they hit their first ‘no’ or when they find their boss is unreceptive to their pitches. Fight the urge to dwell on everything you can’t do. Find something you can do and do it. You might find that your constraint is completely beyond your influence and no one will let you anywhere near it. That’s okay, just pivot to the place where you can have the next largest impact and focus your efforts there. People will notice your efforts–I guarantee it.
In one of my previous posts I introduced the idea that finding and overcoming your constraint is kind of like playing one of those quest games from the 1990s. You’ve got to explore, build your skills, gather tools, and talk to people if you ever hope to complete your quest. There isn’t a straight line from where you are now to overcoming your constraint. You need to be persistent.
Specific things you can do
- ensure your current responsibilities remain under control
- increase your effectiveness in ways that will help you be more productive in your day-to-day responsibilities and overcome the constraint in the future
- increase your influence with the people who can help you overcome the constraint or are responsible for the constraint
- learn more about the area of the constraint
- continue learning about the Theory of Constraints
- talk about theory of constraints and system optimization with your co-workers
- teach others what you’ve learned
- share the credit with those who helped you
- continue reading this blog
- never give up
What’s next for this blog
Now that we’ve got the basics of how to be a wildly successful small business programmer out of the way, I’m going to start filling in the details and posting information on specific skills and techniques for aspiring 10x small business programmers.
Here are some broad categories of things I’m planning to write about:
- case studies
- programming skills
- business skills
- soft skills