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Beyond resistance

Do people resist change? The consensus appears to be that they do.

Well, with all that consensus floating around, I guess resistance to change must be a Thing. It’s hard to argue with a million articles that all say the same things.

On the other hand…not everyone sees it that way.

Continue reading Beyond resistance

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Take a walk in the desert

No one can see their reflection in running water.
It is only in still water that we can see. (Lao Tzu)

A friend of mine was telling me about the new apartment he and his family have bought. The building is under construction, and is located in a prestigious part of a major city. We got into a discussion about choosing where to live. He prefers large cities, and I prefer living far from a city (although I work in cities).
Continue reading Take a walk in the desert

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Julio Cortázar and software development methods

Nadie habrá dejado de observar que con frecuencia marcos del proceso se aplican mecánicamente.

Maybe Julio Cortázar, whose 100th birthday we celebrate this year, would have begun a set of instructions for implementing a process framework with similar words. No one will have failed to observe that many individuals, teams, and organizations are quite befuddled by the process framework they are trying to use. They struggle mightily to follow every “rule” the framework “requires,” even when their goals are ill served by those rules.

Indeed, it is typical for such individuals, teams, and organizations to lose sight of their original goals altogether in their attempts to satisfy the real or perceived “rules” of the process framework. No matter how haphazard their previous mode of work may have been, many conclude that the framework “doesn’t work,” and revert to their former methods.

Continue reading Julio Cortázar and software development methods

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Does pair programming work?

The fact this question continues to come up time and again after all these years prompted me to wonder why the matter hasn’t been settled by now. Thousands of people have tried their hand at pairing in a wide range of circumstances. Some swear by the practice and feel as if something is missing when they must work solo. Others are convinced pairing is pure waste and cannot possibly yield good results. Both opinions are informed by real-world experience. What specific differences in these situations resulted in such radically different outcomes?

Continue reading Does pair programming work?

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We simple folk

I’m working as one of a team of coaches for a large client where we are introducing a basic “agile” development model. The external coaches and internal (client) mentors are having an off-site event soon to improve our cohesiveness as a team.

One of the things we’re doing to prepare for the event is to take an online self-assessment known as StrengthsFinder, offered by Gallup and based on the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Unfortunately, my top five strengths are:

  1. Strategic
  2. Learner
  3. Connectedness
  4. Responsibility
  5. Deliberative

I say “unfortunately” because I can’t just let the assessment run its course. I feel compelled to take it apart, no doubt as a direct consequence of these particular “strengths.” Continue reading We simple folk

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I know how to tie my shoes

Recently there have been numerous discussions online about the difficulty of convincing people to try unfamiliar software development techniques that technical coaches and mentors consider useful. The same discussions have been taking place for many years, with no progress. Why is there no answer?

Continue reading I know how to tie my shoes

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Attitudes toward continuous improvement

Question: Is it a general pattern that organizations in need of improvement tend to be satisfied with the status quo, while organizations that pay attention to improvement tend to forget that they already do many things very well?

Here are sanitized descriptions of four client environments where I’ve worked in the past few years. Continue reading Attitudes toward continuous improvement

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Choosing between traditional and adaptive development

The Iron Triangle of scope, schedule, and budget is fundamental to managing software delivery initiatives. Two general approaches are available for managing this aspect of delivery. With the traditional approach, we try to identify all needs, risks, and costs in advance and create a detailed, comprehensive plan before beginning development. With the adaptive approach, we begin with a vision for the product and incrementally evolve the solution based on feedback from stakeholders. Either way, we must deal with scope, schedule, and budget. However, the mechanisms we use are very different with each approach, and the metrics we can use to steer the initiative are different as well.

There are two key factors to consider when choosing an adaptive or traditional approach to Iron Triangle management: Urgency and uncertainty. Generally speaking, when either urgency or uncertainty is high, an adaptive approach is called for. When both urgency and uncertainty are low, a traditional approach is called for. It’s only fair to say that the choice is not always obvious.

Continue reading Choosing between traditional and adaptive development

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Geek moments

Today I came across a coupon from Dole inviting me to enter a contest, the Big Apple Giveaway. I wondered what the prizes were. Probably iPads, iPods, or other Apple products, I guessed.

Suddenly I realized the contest wasn’t a Big <pause/> Apple Giveaway. It was a Big Apple <pause/> Getaway. Not giveaway, but getaway, as in travel. And not Apple, the company, but "The Big Apple," New York City.

I suppose I could have taken the hint, as the I in "Big" took the shape of a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty. Not an Apple logo, as far as I know. Not yet, anyway. But it just didn’t register at first.

I felt an oddly disorienting sense of being out of phase with reality for a moment. It reminded me of an incident several years ago, when a colleague came to work and told us that she had called a plumber the previous evening, and could not think of any way to describe her problem other than to say, "My kitchen sink is down."

The plumber didn’t quite know what to make of it. "What do you mean, down? Did it fall through the counter-top?"

"No, it just, like, you know, doesn’t, like, work."

I wonder of you’ve had any "geek moments" like those; moments when your computer-oriented mentality scrapes rudely against the hard sides of normality’s box? Or is it just me?