Tools For Change


What does it take for us to want to change? What motivates us in the beginning, and sustains us through the tough stretches? Is it a vision of what we know we could do, or a passion for getting out of whatever rut we find ourselves stuck in?

I don’t know about you, but I find myself wanting to relive some of the high points of my past. There were moments thirty plus years ago when I was in a zone. I was writing 1000 lines of code a day, testing it, and moving on to the next part of the system we were developing. I was so connected to the problems we were solving that when it was over, I had written 80% of the system and four other people had written 20%. Theirs had been the easy stuff, and they struggled with it. My parts just flowed out of my mind into the mainframe terminals we used back then, and worked from the beginning. I didn’t spend much time debugging because I actually designed things first, before I ever started writing code. And I tested my code on paper, with a highlighter and a source code listing, before I ever tried anything.

Some of those tools we built back then would be nice to have nowadays. We could copy designs for one component to other components and then make revisions to them. Imagine how much of your life could be easier if you could take a checklist you built for one purpose and use 80% of it for a similar project.

That is one of the things I intend to do with my suite of tools. It won’t be the first, or even the second, because there isn’t much need for iteration until there is something to be iterated. But if you start building checklists with the intent of leveraging them in the future, your attitude about them changes.

Which is why Deming starts to show up again at the beginning of everything. Plan what you are going to do. Do it. Check to see if what you did satisfied your plans. Act accordingly to retreat to an earlier stage, repeat what you just did with an improvement, or advance toward the next stage.

I’ve been a fan of processes other people published for a very long time. I can’t remember the first process I latched onto, but it was probably related to architecture. My grandmother probably gave it to me. It would have been something like “always have a window by the kitchen sink so you can look outside and see what the kids are doing.”

So that is where I will start as soon as I get back home from these vacations. I will publish a simple tool that will run on an iPhone but scale up to run on an iPad and operate the same basic way on a Mac that has FileMaker 11. This will mean the price of entry could be $20 for an iPhone or iPod Touch, or $40 for an iPad. If you had any Intel-based Mac, I could sell you a runtime version of the application for about $100, and exchange data with the database you were running on your iPhone or iPad.

Would you want to use a hierarchical todo list manager? Would you care about changing your habits? I suppose we will find out when I get the first release ready in a few weeks. As I get closer to the release date, I will start posting pictures under a new thread on this blog. If you like what you see, contact me and we’ll see if you can become a beta tester for what I have ready by that point. You’ll get a discount if you are helping me test, and might have an opportunity to do other things for me if you turn out to have a talent I lack.

Let’s see where this goes if we build tools for change together. I know your feedback will help me. Thanks for following this much of my journey. I think the next few months will get VERY interesting.

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One Response to “Tools For Change”

  1. Kat Nagel Says:

    Would love a hierarchical ToDo list/task manager. I’ve been using Llamagraphics’ LifeBalance for several years, and it works beautifully as a task & project manager, but its built-in calendar doesn’t sync with iCal on my Mac so it’s hard to deal with scheduled and recurring tasks.

    I’ve also used Pimlico Software’s DateBk on my Palm for years (combined calendar and ToDo manager). The problem there was that the task manager wasn’t hierarchical. Pimlico’s new product, Pimlical, also handles tasks, but isn’t available for Macs yet. Sigh.

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