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Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
     
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Agile and Lean Group on LinkedIn has crossed 30,000 Members

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Started on October 15th 2007, the Agile and Lean Software Development Group on LinkedIn has now over 30,000 members. Looking at its growth over the years:

On an average, 350 new members are joining the group every week (a 7% growth.)

On an average, 13 discussions every week, but close to 300 comments each week is awesome. Shows that the group is very active. We also get a ton of promotions and jobs.

London, UK and San Francisco Bay Area seems to contributed highest number of members. Also pleasantly surprised to see Bangalore 5th on the list.

You can view all these detailed stats yourself at the group dashboard.

LinkedIn is getting good at Engaging their Users

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Over the last few years, while building products, I’ve really struggled to keep my users engaged. Its been hard to have your users constantly coming back to your product. There is a fine line between being too pushy and fading away in the background.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see the following email from LinkedIn.

This email has the right balance. It makes you feel important and wanted.

Doing this kind of stuff in products is generally hard. Also I was surprised how they have figured out the related groups and suggesting those to me. Interesting!

Social Credibility: Alternatives to Certification?

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

There is something very powerful about online education (eLearning). Assuming that one can create really good courses, it enables any individual to start competing with the large Universities. (Many Universities have seen the benefit of online education and they have certainly started offering their courses online.) Students can be located anywhere around the world and they can learn things at their own pace. With social media one can even achieve a very high collaboration between the students (peers) and teachers. This can scale very well and since the class capacity is infinite, we can completely remove the barrier to entry. Finally education can be made very affordable, since the cost of running an online course is extremely low compared to the bureaucratic Universities. Thus it helps in “Bringing quality education to everyone“.

One of the real problems we run into with this approach is, how do you “certify” the student? Coz these individual educators won’t have the credibility like a University nor will they be able to give an acceptable degree/certificate as a “proof of learning”. The question is can social media/web fill the void?

The Social Media/Web is still at a very nascent stage, evolving rapidly. Today people don’t really use it to validate someone’s credibility online. As of today “Certificates” have more value.

Globally, using social web to certify people has not taken off. LinkedIn is trying. I’m (or should I say, I was) trying something similar with the Agile Alliance LinkedIn Group. Lot of other people like http://www.wevouchfor.org and http://www.workingwithrails.com/ have tried.

To think about it, Open Source (being a committer/contributor on an open source project) helps you build social credibility. This model has certainly worked for a lot of developers.

Things like http://www.topcoder.com/ and http://www.codechef.com/ are taking off very well. But they are different, not so much social media.

Imagine “real” people on the web can vouch for your experience, knowledge and skill. You can demonstrate the same with applications/tools you’ve built. Your social status speaks for you and you can completely do away with the traditional certification model. I certainly see us moving in that direction. Decentralize and distribute the ability to certify people.

Proposed Guidelines for Announcing Events on Agile Alliance LinkedIn Group

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Over the last few months we have seen a huge increase in members announcing events as discussion on the Agile Alliance LinkedIn group. I think this is a good thing, but Diana and I, as the moderators of this group, have some concerns.

  • There is too much noise about event announcements.
  • We don’t see why they need to be discussions. There is nothing to discuss about an event announcement. We feel it would be better to add it under News. (I wish LinkedIn would create a new tab called Events. Then folks can publish their events there. For now please use the News.)
  • There are some community run, non-profit events, which we know are really helpful for the community. And we want to promote them. So as moderators, we will make them as featured discussion/news.
  • There are lots of company run webinars/seminars. Sometimes, we are not sure if they are real events that help the community or are more of marketing gimmicks. We hope our members are smart enough to weed the noise out. So for now we’ll not really do much about it. Except that we’ll request members to avoid using this forum for such marketing events. Also if you notice such posts, please comment on it. This would create bad reputation for the companies and hopefully members will stop misusing this forum.

I’m a strong believer in Distributed Cognition and the Broken-Window-Syndrome. If I see a lot of marketing posting in a forum, I would be encouraged to add more marketing posts or I’ll leave this forum coz there is too much noise. But if we maintain our discussions clean, spammers will be strongly discouraged to add noise.

Also as members of this community we can help. We can comments and discourage spammers. As moderators, Diana and I, delete any such posts whenever we find them. If the post is quite offensive, in the past, I’ve even banned members.

Some more thoughts on, as user group moderators how to keep the spammers out.

I hope this will help us keep this forum clean.

If you have other ideas or want to comment about this approach, please leave your valuable comments below.

Cannot Evaluate a Candidate just based on their Resume

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Its been 7 years since I’ve been actively involved in recruiting software professionals for various companies. In most places I’ve defined or helped refactor the existing recruitment process to increase our throughput without compromising on the quality.

In this post I plan to explain the second step in the recruitment process. The first and the most important step in recruitment of course is sourcing. Sourcing the right candidates is no doubt the most important thing when it comes to making your recruitment process efficient.

A good number of resumes do come in directly (company job portal, conferences, user groups, other community initiatives and so on) or through a consultant. At Directi we have a Puzzles and Case Studies section on our website and look favorably towards candidates who solve the puzzles or complete their case studies and send their solutions with their resumes. Once we get a resume, we need to make a Go or No Go decision.

We evaluate the submission first. Of course we also need to go through the resume and check the quality of projects the candidate has worked on, see if she has relevant experience, decent exposure to technology & methodology and good communication skills. Unfortunately in today’s competitive environment this is not sufficient. Following is a laundry list of steps I follow to make an informed decision:

  • Google for the person’s name, see if her blog/website shows up. Its a delight to see if Google suggest shows the name. See what others have to say about the candidate through their blogs, discussions, etc. See if the candidate has any other web presence.
  • Is the candidate active in the community (Local and online)? Did the candidate present at user groups and conferences?
  • Does the candidate have published articles, experience reports or books?
  • Has the candidate authored any products (open source or otherwise)? If yes, is it usable, what is its acceptance, what problem is it really trying to solve, compare it to competing products, etc.
  • If the candidate has a blog, check what she writing on her blog. Based on her blog we can gauge her interests, her depth and breath of knowledge, communication skills, exposure, etc. Lot more informative than a resume can provide.
  • I’m particularly interested to see if the candidate has solved any issues with tools, frameworks, etc and explained it well to others on her blog or mailing list or any article.
  • Social Networking sites are a good source of information. For ex: if the candidate has her profile on LinkedIn, we check if she has any recommendations. LinkedIn gives you a graph of how you are connected to the candidate. This also gives some understanding of who in your connection knows the candidate.
  • And so on…

Typically this gives me enough information to make an informed call about the candidate. Now we can move to the next step of our recruitment process. (Typically an intro email requesting 30 mins casual conversation.)

Agile Alliance LinkedIn Membership Limit Increased to 9000

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Finally after 2 weeks, the LinkedIn Gods have accepted my offerings and have increased the membership limit to 9000. This time it took surprisingly 3 emails and had to wait for 2 weeks to get this stupid limit fixed. LinkedIn has some wired limits on how many people can join a group. Once the limit is reached, you need to request them to increase the membership size.

Over the last 2 weeks, over 30 people (on an average 2 people per day) wrote to me complaining that they cannot join the Agile Alliance LinkedIn Group. So far we are already 6000 members. So if you are not already a member, grab the opportunity before it’s gone. Show your support to Agile Alliance and Agile in general.

Agile Alliance LinkedIn Group growing

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Just noticed that the Agile Alliance Group that I has created in LinkedIn is growing massively. We have 1403 members so far. If you believe in Agile, join this group and show your support.

To join this group on LinkedIn click the following link: http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/37631/0FF74232FB92 (You’ll need a LinkedIn Id. If you don’t have one you can always create one for free)

I hope joining this group will activate the consciousness of belonging to the Agile community as a network.

Join the Agile Alliance Group on LinkedIn

Monday, November 26th, 2007

When I was standing for the Agile Alliance board election in Aug 2007, in my position statement, I claimed that if I get on the board I want to “connect the dots”. I did not get on the board, but later when I got the Pask Award, I claimed again that, I really want to focus on “connecting the dots”. That would be my theme or vision for the next couple of years.

If you know me, you know that I’m really passionate about building a network of highly skilled, talented and passionate professionals. Personally I have experience the magic of working/collaborating with such folks. It is the knowledge and learning from these folks that has made me what I’m today.

In the Agile community, we have a lot of Agile practitioners who are doing great work. But they all seemed to be scattered all over the place like islands in an ocean. Trying to connect these islands [practitioners] can bring a lot of value in terms of knowledge sharing and identifying innovative idea and concepts. I think Agile Alliance is in great position to do this. So with the help of Agile Alliance I want to build a global community of these folks by bringing them closer and facilitating collaboration between them. Networking them is the first step towards this.

Hence recently I created a group for Agile Alliance on LinkedIn.

Purpose of the group: To connect Agile practitioners. If you are a supporter of Agile Alliance and Agile in general, please join this group.

Many professionals I know, have a linked in account today where they maintain their profile, resume, connections with other professionals, recommendations, etc on LinkedIn. IMHO, I am hoping that this existing informal network will provide a simple way for me to connect the dots and build a network of Agile practitioners who support Agile Alliance. Linkedin has another feature called “Recommendations” which is another way for the community to recommend and certify other practitioners to build a trusted network. Recommendations could be an alternative to “over the counter” certificates.

So if you would like to join this group on LinkedIn click the following link: http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/37631/0FF74232FB92

I hope joining this group will activate the consciousness of belonging to the Agile community as a network.

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