How to Rescue Failing Software Projects: Practical Proven Methods That Work

IMG_1712 My book is finally available as an eBook, on Amazon Kindle and on Amazon. I wrote this book to share my experience in how to rescue failing software projects. When I was going through such a situation, I had no one to turn to. My hope is that the information in this book will be useful to those in similar situations. Although the information in the book pertains to software projects, I have come to realize that the techniques can be used in many other situations. I have personally used these techniques in business and technical projects.

You can read more about it here.
My book can be purchased here at
Amazon Kindle version is available here at

Monday, May 28, 2007

You distracted me from my goals

Goals, goals, goals. An overused word? Everyone talks about it. Every achiever talks about it. There is much more talk than action. Strong words, but words from a shrewd observer nonetheless. :-)

We are often disappointed about goals, about setting them, the trepidation of thinking about them. No one wants to fail. How often do we set goals, get enthusiastic about it, take action. A few days later, a friend, colleague, relative tells you that you shouldn't waste your time on such futile pursuits. They may tell you that the goal is not lofty. Rather, you should consider doing this other 'thing' that can surely accelerate your growth, they would say.

These are all distractions. This is one reason why many do not attempt at taking action, or take action and keep changing their targets until there isn't a clear target anymore.

Its like a platoon of soldiers at the frontline during a battle. The commander says the objective to capture 'lofty goals hill'. The platoon commander plans for it, disseminates the plans to his troops. Before they move off, a change in plan. 'Lofty goals hill' doesn't look that lofty anymore. The new objective is 'More lofty goals hill'. So, the platoon commands plans and disseminates the plans again and the troops move out. Halfway though battle, 'More lofty goals hill' is not the objective anymore. Its now 'Ultimate goals hill'. While holding the fort at the frontlines, the platoon commander re-plans and disseminates the plans for his troops.

What do you think his troops will do? If I were his troop, I'd probably shoot the commander myself! :-)

This is an example where the goals change often that it confuses you, makes you lethargic, makes you demoralised and stop taking action. You get disillusioned with goal setting and taking action, and say that its all too esoteric and doesn't work. Its all hogwash. Let's take a look at another scenario.

The objective is again 'lofty goals hill'. The platoon commander plans for it, disseminates the plans to his troops. The troops move out. At the base of the objective, they realise that the intelligence gathered is not very accurate. They need to do a flank around the base and find another gap in. The command re-plans his next move and disseminates the plans to his troops. The troops move to the other side of 'lofty goals hill' and spots a potential gap. They breach that gap and gain foothold at the base, while the other troops fan-out left and right of the gap. The troops on the left continue to move upwards towards the top of 'lofty goals hill'. The troops on the right face strong firepower. They re-plan their next move and decide to hold their position, while a small crack team flanks and overruns the enemy. In time, the troops on the left overruns the enemy at the top of the hill while the troops on the right kept the enemy so busy they didn't notice the troops on the left.

What's the moral of this story? Its that the strategy to achieve your goals can change as circumstances keep changing everyday. The goals or outcome should remain the same, unless there is a strong compelling reason to change the outcome. This doesn't mean that goals are cast in concrete. On the contrary, if there is a strong enough reason to abandon the goal, do so, only after you have thoroughly clarified its impact and you are true to yourself that its in your best interest to change your goal.

So, do not be easily distracted by mere heresay. Everyone has opinions, but there is only you who has to take action and bear the results. Its just like buying a car. You will hear differing opinions. Some will say buying a larger more expensive car is value for money (I don't see how that can be true). But the ultimate decision lies with you and it is you who will bear the result. In this case, you will bear the cost of the car and car loans, not the person who recommended his opinion about which car you should get. Everyone will see you in a nice brand new expensive car, but you will only see yourself footing the huge bill that's burning a hole in your pocket.

Distractions are good in that when they are evaluated against the context of your goal and your values, they provide a test to your resolve. It can be used to clarify your actions and thoughts, but not to be taken at face value.


Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 21, 2007

Impatiently achieving goals

How fast do you want to achieve your goals? We go around in life and only remember life is a blur.

We always talk about taking action. Taking action is what enables us to achieve. The key phrase in the statement is "always talk". We always talk about it. How many of you really do something about it? How many really take action?

I have realised that taking action is difficult. There is always the aversion to inertia. Difficult to start. However, once started, it keeps going. There is a caveat to this. If action is taken with a small step with no follow up, the second step will not be taken. This is one reason why we do not achieve.

Another reason why taking action is difficult is due to the fact that we want results fast. To succeed in achieving a goal, it can only be done one step and a time. Each step may take a day, a week, a month, sometimes a year. When that first step is taken, we do not see the fast results we are after, and we quit. If we constantly see the end-goal in our minds, and constantly review daily, that goal will continue to be fresh in our minds and we will continue to persist in our actions.

So,when action is taken, always review at the end of each day. Look at the result with respect to the goal you are after. This is why so few of us continue to achieve goals. We need to persist with passion and stamina. This can only happen if we keep reminding ourselves of the outcome we are after and why its important.

You can check out my previous blogs about the power of writing and review.

So, take action now, review, and take action again, and again and again. This is known as taking massive action, one small step at a time.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perception versus Realization

What is the difference between perception and realization? This subtle difference is very important to how we go about achieving our goals. Let me explain in more detail. The following explanation is my own opinion and observation.

We all know many things. We may have read books that teaches us certain concepts or techniques. In this case, we know content of the subject well. We understand the content well.

Realization is the experience we get after taking action based on this understanding. As we gain this experience, the knowledge we have becomes ingrained as part of our DNA, in our experiential base for us to draw upon when the time and need arises. It affects the way we think, it affects our belief system, it affects the way to do things.

For example, many of us would have read books or magazines about time management. We are able to expound the benefits and pitfalls of cetain techniques. Without practicing these techniques, we are simply walking libraries, able to quote benefits but unable to speak on the subject with much authority.

Actually practicing the techniques enable us to encounter the difficulties associated with the techniques. We may find that the technique in theory is simple, but to take action on it is difficult because of personal habits that inhibit us.

All this chalks up to learning experience. We become better after practice. When we speak on the subject, we are now able to speak with much authority as we have "been there and donen that", or "we walk the talk" and not simply "talk the talk".

This experience base makes us smarter and stronger as we are able to draw on our experience to help us when we encounter similar difficulties. The more small difficulties we encounter, the better and many of these experiences will help us in diffusing larger difficulties in times of need.

So, do not be afraid of difficulties. We can only get smarter with it. This is the difference between perception and realization.

Do you perceive this point or do you really realize it? Take action. I've written about several techniques. Pick one and practice. The simplest of all is to write things down. Look through my blog and you will find the entry for it.

Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 07, 2007

Act Now!

How difficult can getting into an elevator (also known as a lift in Asia) be? Can we learn simple lessons about getting into an elevator?

I had a eureka moment this morning. It may sound really foolish, but I'm putting myself on the line by sharing my insght here. So, no flaming please. Haha! ;-)

Early this morning, I left my house with my mind occupied on an important assignment. I had put on my socks and shoes, one foot at a time. My mind deep in thought about my assignment. I opened my front door and walked out into the brave new frontier, called "a new day". Step by step, I got closer to the elevator. I could hear the sound of my shoes as it hit the ground with each step. My mind still occupied with my assignment. I stood in front of the elevator, looking at the display above on which floor the elevator was at. My mind still occupied with my assignment. As I waited, I mulled over my assignment. I waited some more.

I began to wonder why the elevator hadn't reached my floor. I thought this was going to be a long wait, that there must have been many people taking the elevator down to the ground floor this morning. So, I waited some more.

Boy, did I feel foolish. I realised that I hadn't pressed the elevator button. There I was, dressed smartly, waiting for the elevator to arrive, and stood there wondering why it didn't arrive. All this while, I had not pressed the elevator button.

I sheepishly walked forward, pressed the elevator button to go down, and Wa-Lah! Within 15 seconds, the elevator arrived. How long was I standing in front of the elevator? About 5 mintues, 5 long minutes or 300 seconds!

What's even more amazing was the simple lesson this episode reinforced in me. The simple lesson was this:

"If you take no action, you get no result". Or to spin this positively, "If you take action, you will definitely get a result".

Let's dissect the statement "If you take no action,you get no result".

Isn't this true? If you take no action, there will be no result, as shown in my example of not pressing the elevator button, I get no result.

What about "If you take action, you will definitely get a result"?

As in my example above, I took action by pressing the elevator button, and the elevator arrived. I got the result.

However, does taking action mean that you get the result you want? Definitely not. If it were that simple, everyone will be wealthy, healthy and happy because everyone will be taking action every minute. The only guarantee we have is that we will definitely get a result when we take action. The caveat is that the result may not be what we want or expect, but its still a result nonetheless. Is this good?

Yes it is. If you have a goal, you need to take action to get closer to it. By taking action, you get a result. If the result is not what you expected or want, take action again with a different method and review the result again. The result simply tells you that the action taken will yeield the result. If its not the result you want or expect, change the action and take action again. You will then learn what works and what doesn't. This will definitely drive you closer and closer to your goals. Sometime, taking action will not yield a result at all. The result of having no result is a result in itself. It means that you have to change your tactic and take action again.

The opposite is also true. If you have a goal and do not take action, you will definitely get no result. 100% of the time. This is the only guaranteed result...of getting no result. THis is the only sure thing.

So why is it so difficult to take action? Let me list a few reasons I have heard:

1. Its too difficult.
2. It takes too much effort.
3. I started taking action, but lost the fire in me to continue because I'm not getting result.
4. I don't know what the outcome will be. I'm afraid.
5. I'm afraid I will fail.

All these are e-x-c-u-s-e-s. Repeat after me. All these are EXCUSES. If the action does not produce the result you want, its not failure. It simply tells you that your action may not be appropriate at this point in time. Change your tactic and take action again. Life is a learning experience. The more you learn, the better you will be, the more confident you will be, the easier it will be to take more action.

Its also a matter of momentum. The first few steps are the most difficult. Once the first few steps are taken, the rest will follow. Its will rolling a ball down a hill. It rolls down faster and faster. The hard part is rolling it down in the first place. Its a matter of inertia.

So, take action now. No matter how small, you will definitely get a result. This result will tell you if you are on the right path or not. If not, change your tactic, and take action.

Wishing you a successful journey filled with joy and learnings! Don't be too serious. Have fun while you learn and take action.


Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Time? Whom are we kidding?

I have not been posting for the last month due to my hectic schedule. Yeah, its probably just an excuse! :-) You are absolutely right and I plan for fix that. Now on with my observations.

Have you ever heard others telling you they have no time? Whom are they kidding? Let me rephrase that. Have you ever heard of you telling yourself that you have no time? Whom are you kidding?

Many of us go through life in a daze. Somewhere down the road (like 10 years from now), we will wonder where all the time went to. Time seemed to zoom past us. Life seemed to pass us by in the blink of an eye.

No time?

Everyone has the same amount of time. Yet, some are able to achieve so much, others not much. Strange isn't it? You may guess that I am alluding to time management techniques. Well, yes. However, I'd like to also show you and make you realise that you really do have the same amount of time as everyone else.

We all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, about 30 days a month. Think about it. 24 hours a day, that is 1440 minutes a day. By the way, a few of those minutes has already gone by. We all have 168 hours a week. Only 168 hours, including time for sleeping. How much can you do in 168 hours? Let me do some calculation here:

1. Number of hours a day = 24
2. Number of waking hours a day = 16 (assuming you sleep 8 hours a day)
3. Number of waking hours a week = 16x7 = 112

Only 112 waking hours a week, or 6720 minutes a week that you are awake. How are you using the 6720 minutes?

Its really interesting when I hear the phrase "I have no time". But then, who has? We are all busy, we all have many things to do.

Those who accomplish much isn't simply good at time management. They also have a strong goal, a goal that has become a MUST for them to achieve. That goal is so compelling that it drives them to use every single waking minute in taking action. That's the trick. Taking action.

I have included a sample schedule for you to look at. Believe it or not, your entire life for 1 month is on this schedule. There is no other life outside of this schedule. Take a look at it. It starts from 6am to 12am (assuming you sleep from 12am to 6am), and every day (day 1 to day 31) is mapped out. All your available time is on this simple piece of paper.

Dare you crumple it and throw it away? The whole sheet of paper is your entire life for one month. What you plan to do is all on this sheet of paper. Whatever is NOT on this sheet of paper is what you will NOT do because you will not have time to do it. Its as simple as that.

As I had written in previous posts, always write your activities down. Schedule time for it. I hope this give you a good glimpse into how precious time is and how fleeting it is. Time is ticking away. Waste not, for it will never come back again. After the month is gone, this sheet of paper is worth nothing and can be thrown away because the time has passed. You will start life on another brand new sheet of schedule for the next month.

Here is the schedule:

If the image isn't too clear, you can always drop me a comment requesting for the original spreadsheet and I will gladly send it to you. If you need more clarification or explanation on what the symbols mean, do drop me a comment and I will be happy to explain it.

Remember, time it ticking away. Make full use of it. Live life to the fullest.


Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved