I caught the bug for effective learning during the Quantic MBA✅. Quantic is a business school built for the 21st century. Low acceptance rate, results on par with top schools that charge 20x the price. I graduated in Feb 2020. (Here’s a Poets & Quants article for more).
A fire of self-improvement was lit underneath me. Kaizen personified, in small chunks of constant progress.
I realised I wanted to focus on a further program of study which applied the best parts of Quantic, that was not too long in duration (relatively) and not too costly (again, relative to ‘normal’ alternatives) such as another degree (3-4 years and 20k+) by creating a bespoke curriculum based on in-demand tech skills.
Things can be efficient if you choose to make them so.
At the start of the year, I took this type of study one step further and did the Executive Data Science Specialization ✅ by Johns Hopkins University on Coursera. I was hooked. It was high-quality content that had the matching branding to go with it.
So, after much research, I decided to teach myself the top tech skills.
A quick caveat: The phrase ‘self-taught’ is a bit of a myth, IMO. You learn from somewhere, and one definitely doesn’t just stumble upon the knowledge by oneself unless you’re inventing or pioneering something entirely new.
That disclaimer aside, I’m focused on self-directed learning courses which are highly regarded and taught by world-class professionals… And that place is found on Coursera.
You Have to Reverse Engineer the Process
If you want to achieve something in life, you don’t have to discover it by yourself, instead, be smart and look at people who have already gone there and attained what you are striving for.
Looking through the top 25 in-demand jobs in the UK was the inspiration for me. It’s about finding (or creating) a job with high autonomy (you set your day to day workflow, largely), high job satisfaction (you like what you do, for the most part), and high availability (lots of open jobs and high demand in the market).
The process is simple: Look at a selection of these jobs. See the required skills. Then build those skills.
Action plan: I signed up to Coursera and set about to design a bespoke curriculum which would improve my existing skills and enable me to prove it through projects and certifications.
By focusing on specializations and a stack of courses built on top of each other, I created a modern tech curriculum. You can take it too! Modify it, do what you like but this is my list (and progress so far!)
Without further ado here’s the list of courses I am taking:
- Agile with Atlassian Jira ✅
- Digital Product Management Virginia ✅
- Software Product Management Intro Alberta ✅
- Project Management UCI
- Managing the Company of the Future LBS✅
- Full-Stack Development with React: Hong Kong UoT
- UI UX Design: CalArts
- Search Engine Optimization: UCDavis
- Programming with Cloud IoT platforms: PUST
- Developing Applications with Google Cloud Platform
- New Product Development – Technion
- Creating and Developing a Tech Startup – HEC Paris
- Start Your Own Business Specialization – Michigan State
These skills are highly employable because they are highly valued in the marketplace and are needed in a bunch of tech jobs. Front End, Full Stack, Product Management, Project Management, SEO, UI/UX, etc. Any business with a digital presence needs these skills… and in the 21st century, every business needs a digital presence.
Along the way, I am building out my own projects and websites with the skills I learn, so expect updates to my site, and to others I own. The goal is to get and keep tech jobs, but I figure why not also just create your own tech job and start your own startup at the same time!
I’m co-hosting the Darkside of the HODL Moon podcast with my buddy Kade. Check out our homepage: https://darksideofthehodlmoon.com
Now then, so what’s Kanban and how does it compare to Scrum?
Like Scrum, Kanban is just a method for executing Agile software development, except it’s not as strict as Scrum in terms of meetings and times.
So you may have actually seen what’s referred to as a Kanban board before.
Basically, it’s a bunch of columns with cards on it that you can move from one column to the other one to reflect a state of that item, like to do, in progress, and then done. See Trello for a cool free example of this you can use today!
However, just because something has a Kanban-style board does not mean that that is the Kanban process.
Instead, Kanban does not use “sprints”.
Also, since there’s no sprints, there’s no sprint backlog, which we’ll learn about, but only the product backlog itself.
So what happens is the team just works on their tickets, they get the job finished, they move it to done and then they take the next task off the top of the product backlog.
And that backlog just goes on forever, it’s just endless.
Kanban is also different from Scrum in that it does not prescribe any particular meeting types like Scrum does with standup meetings, and sprint planning meetings, and retrospective meetings. And there’s one more big difference.
Kanban operates off of the theory that only a certain amount of items can be in progress or in any given state at one time. How many items can be in each particular state is up for you and your team to decide.
Some software teams use Kanban, but it tends to work best with teams that are not very concerned with things like estimation and are continuously moving tasks through the same number of steps pretty quickly until they’re complete.
For instance, customer service teams often use a Kanban-style of working.
There you are then. That’s what Kanban is all about.
Now we are familiar with Scrum and Kanban, the next big question is, which one is best?
Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no definitive answer here as it depends on what your team prefers to use.
The best process is the one that you like using. As you can tell, Kanban is a more relaxed way of doing Agile development but it has a big disadvantage since it doesn’t use sprints.
It’s going to be more difficult to project the amount of time it’s going to take to complete work.
Don’t worry too much about that right now because we’re going to talk about things like estimations and velocity another time.
So to review Kanban is just another way to implement an Agile type of software development workflow.
It’s a little less prescriptive than Scrum and it does not use sprints.
Got it? Good!
Alright, see you in the next blog post.