Design Theft By Proxy

2009 has been a rough year at Cogeian Systems for a number of reasons.  Financially, it’s all rosy, and we’re growing.  But that growth has come in overwhelming waves and from time to time, I’ve felt as though I was losing control of certain details of our operation.

One of those details was marketing – I felt like the company’s marketing presence had gone stale (it has!), so I decided to do a new site design.  In a moment of monumental stupidity, I decided not to use my own design guys, because I wanted an outsider’s perspective, thinking it would result in something fresher than what would come about if the design were done by someone too close to the company.  I chose a young designer – a recent graduate with a good solid portfolio who seemed to see eye-to-eye with me on the importance of having the right design and what that design should be – to do the work on a freelance basis.  So, after providing a creative brief and taking a few meetings to hash ideas out, I set him to work.

I never would have predicted what happened after that. Keep Reading…

Productive Jealousy – Is There is Enough Sun for Everyone to Tan?

One of my all-time favorite articles is Productive Jealousy on Signal vs. Noise.  David Heinemeier Hansson insists that jealousy need not be an angry or destructive emotion.  I tend to agree with him – in fact, negative emotions are my primary motivation.  I suspect that there is a conception out there that in order to be productive and successful you have to be all sunshine & rainbows, hoping to make the world a better place.  In truth, just as much productivity is fueled by “I’ll show you!” as it is by “Gee, guys, isn’t this spiffy?” Keep Reading…

Monday Consulting Questions: The Bus Test and “I Could Do This Myself, But…”

Q.  How do you handle your workload when your key man is out/unavailable?

A. Cogeian Systems is basically my vision of how software development ought to be done, implemented by my team.  In some ways, I am the key man.  In other ways, my team members – every one of them – are the key men.  In a small firm, you don’t have the ability to pull in an anonymous dev from another department to cover a staffing shortfall in your own.  We are a small team; we thrive together and we suffer together.

That said, in any firm there’s always at least one project going on that is significantly more vital to the firm than any other project.  Keep Reading…

Why Is Finding Small Office Space So Hard?

Cogeian Systems is mostly a virtual team, with the project management office in central California directing the efforts of developers/designers in southern California, Brazil, New Zealand, and on the East Coast.  However, things are quickly coming to the point where I need to get a few folks into an office here in central CA.  So, I’ve been looking around town for office space recently.  The search has not gone well.

In general, it seems that renting office space is a game that has been polarized to cater to two types of folks: solo operators who can get by with a 12′ x 12′ executive suite, or mid-size+ firms who can actually make use of 2500 square foot office suites.

My little company is on the low side of the middle in terms of space requirements; I only need space enough for 3 people, with maybe some flex space for folks who drop in to perform recurring duties from time to time (my wife, the bookkeeper, the PC tech, etc.).  So, we need maybe 500 square feet.  After speaking to some other local tech guys, it seems I am not alone. Keep Reading…