Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel to Tel Aviv to work with my development team there. This trip was fascinating for me, both personally and professionally, and I learned a bunch of lessons.
#1 Development Process Risk Mitigation
Spending $3-5k for travel will not kill a project, but bad communication can… Going to Israel, our plan was to have a "mini-project", ship something in the week I was there. Day 1 involved project planning with a goal of shipping Day 5. Going through this process showed me what holes we had in communicating with each other. By communicating, I don’t just mean language issues, I mean effectively explaining what needed to be done to plan, develop, and ship the project. If we have problems when we are in the same room, we are definitely going to have problems when we are separated distance and time zones. In my week there, we did not ship on time. I learned that we had a problem being overly optimistic in some of our estimating techniques. To me, it showed that some of our slippages in the past were not as much due to the outsourcing model, rather to poor project planning techniques. At the end of the week, it was my conclusion that either I (or my other team lead) that we really needed to change certain parts of the process to be better at planning and execution of our development interactions.
#2 More People Should Visit
The country was beautiful. I was turned off a little by the architecture in Tel Aviv at the beginning of my trip, but by the end, I found it to be quite beautiful, especially the older parts of Tel Aviv. Also, it was awesome to be on the beach in shorts in January, reminded me a little of California.
#3 There Will Never Be Peace
One thing that is missing in most American news analysis, the conflicts around Israel are not as simple as Israel vs. Palestine. There are so many conflicts, between the secular and the religious, between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, between people of Eastern European/Russian lineage and other groups, between recent immigrants and those that have been there longer, between Fatah and Hamas, the list goes on. There is no where near a unified front on how the ending should look and people are militant about it on all sides. The conflict is so much deeper than just us vs. them; I don’t see how the people (especially in Jerusalem) will ever agree on zoning laws, let alone bigger issues.
#4 An International Midge of Mystery
Christina (my wife, aka Midge) came with me on the trip and got to be a tourist while I worked. Being out of the Philadelphia area really agreed with us. Philly is a great town, but so insular and stifling. I think we need to move, just not sure where yet. If I could find a 3-6 month stint overseas, we would leap at it.