Category Archives: Uncategorized

Importing excel files into NVivo for Mac

As part of a project I was trying to import a spreadsheet of data into NVivo for Mac so that this would become the classification sheet for each instance of the data. However, it kept reporting an error about the data having different numbers of columns in the rows.
Several hours of frustration later, having checked for spare commas, and other characters, which might cause problems in what should be a csv file, I checked Google and found my solution.
This page has the answer: everything has to be utf-16 as unicode text and then it will all work correctly. For me this meant downloading the data from as a cvs file and then converting that to utf-16 as a text file and then importing it into NVivo. If you put it into excel format, then it gets messed up along the way it seems so better to stick with the text formats as long as you can.
Anyways, I hope this helps someone else the way it helped me.

Build a Better You Through Failure – #lascot15

I am presentingĀ a talk on how to use ‘becoming comfortable with uncomfortableness’ as a growth strategy at Lean Agile Scotland 2015 in Edinburgh. I’ll add more to this for later, but this will work for now.

This is where you can find edited the slides, from the presentation – now without the errors of the event šŸ™‚ Those really were an accident, but did work well for the session as they were my own failures in the heat of the session.

These are the sources I used while developing the ideas over the years:

Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Jules Evans, Philosophy for Life and other Dangerous Situations

Andy Hunt, Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

Kelly McGonigal, Maximum Willpower: How to Master the New Science of Self-Control

Steven Pressfield, Do the Work!

David Rock, Your Brain at Work

Julien Smith, The Flinch

Mark Williams and Danny Penman, Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world


Systems thinking and problem solving

Watched System based improvement videos of Russell Ackoff and followed up with his book The Art of Problem Solving in the library as his work seems so similar to that of Deming and others. This slim little book (library had original 1978 edition) is very useful read to understand more about solving problems and fits in with another plan for an MSc program I have in mind.

The beauty of this book, and why it works so well with Deming’s ideas, is that it analyses problem scientifically and looks for measurable solutions. Problems are treated by ways to resolve them through:

  1. creativity and constraints – look at assumed constraints and check whether they are only perceived or real, tehy might not be
  2. objectives – look for idealized design of a solution and resolving one problem may lead to another without taking into account the objectives of other stakeholders in the problem
  3. controllable variables – look at all variables that you can control, not just the obvious ones connected to a problem as sometimes expanding the search area might help find a variable that does have better purchase on a problem than would be assumed to be the case
  4. uncontrollable variables – look at the assumptions about ‘obvious’ facts to see whether they are true, or only misconceptions, or aspects that were formerly true, but no longer hold true, and look to where the problem system can be enlarged to make the uncontrollable variable a controllable one in a larger system
  5. relations – look at the relationships between variable to ensure that associations between them are not mistakenly taken as causation, but are held in the correct interpretation

The best quote is this from page 53:

We usually try to reduce complex situations to what appear to be one or more simple solvable problems. This is sometimes referred toĀ  as ‘cutting the problem down to size.’ In so doing we often reduce our chances fo finding a creative solution to the original problem.

…the greater the variety of backgrounds fo the people who examine a problematic situation, the greater the variety of variables that will be considered as susceptible to control. From this derives the widely observed problem-solving power of interdisciplinary teams.

The distinction between inter- and multidisciplinary teams is important. When a complex problem is divided into parts each of which is assigned a different discipline for solution, the result is multi- no and interdisciplanary effort. In an interdisciplanary effort representatives of different disciplines work together in tackling the undivided problem however complex it is.

That sums up the approach: don’t constrain your solutions by boxing up who can, or can’t look at it. It also points to why agile teams should be cross disciplinary in order to work.

Must find some more Ackoff to read.

Mobile megatrends 2009

VisionMobile have put up an interesting presentation on their perspective of the mobile market for 2009. It offers some intriguing insights: lower Linux marketshare in handsets now than in 2006, and also a nice view of how the different licence agreements for the software, et al, is also affected by the governance of the same projects. I also like how it differentiates phoneME from JavaME, which I’ve not noticed before. All in all worth a look and your time.


Hey ho, here we go. This will be an ongoing experiment in putting down ideas and trying out content. The idea is that it should have stuff that is up for discussion, as well as a place to put things, which I can more readily find later. Hopefully, you’ll also find it useful.