Premise 1: Self-discipline is the only meaningful form of discipline.
Premise 2: Simpler solutions are usually preferable to more-complicated solutions to the same problem.
Premise 3: Without self-discipline on the part of those using it, no process model or method or framework or tool of any kind provides the value its proponents believe it can provide.
Premise 4: A formal process that imposes strict rules tends to teach people to follow rules rather than to cultivate self-discipline.
Premise 5: The longer and more deeply a person invests in a given idea or habit, the more difficult it becomes for that person to let go of the idea or habit, or even to question it.
Premise 6: In the diffusion of any innovation, the main reason Innovators and Early Adopters achieve better results than Late Adopters and Laggards is the former are predisposed to try unfamiliar things and take risks, and not primarily because the particular innovation is intrinsically better than whatever it replaces (even if it happens to be a little better on the merits).
Premise 7: The factor that makes an innovation useful is that it comes at a time when it is needed, in a context where it is needed, and to people who are in a position to make use of it; not necessarily that the innovation itself is “best” in a general or permanent sense.
Continue reading Discipline
Looking back over who-knows-how-many “agile transformation” and “agile coaching” engagements, it occurs to me that five experiences stand out as especially positive.
When I ask myself why, two elements present themselves: First, (in three cases) the development team was physically collocated with the end users and collaborated directly with them daily; and second, (in the other two cases) the team and the organization did not “lock in” any rigid definition of “agile,” and actively explored ways to move beyond the usual Agile 101 level of practice.
Continue reading The best agile environments I’ve seen
Many of us who try to help organizations and teams improve the way they carry out software development and delivery work encounter a bizarre response from clients on occasion: “Your suggestion may work in an ideal world, but it can’t work in the real world.”
Why bizarre? Because they are experiencing challenges in their work and they have engaged outside helpers to advise them, and yet they dismiss the helpers’ advice out of hand. If all they intend to do is continue working in the same way as before, and claim that nothing will work “in the real world,” why do they bother to spend time and money to engage outside help?
Many people assume the advice we offer was just made up on the spot, or represents some academic theory that hasn’t been tried in the field, or requires the organization to be perfect even before they can try to implement the advice. In reality, the things we suggest are not new.
Continue reading In an Ideal World
Some time ago I wrote about the use of metaphors in the field of software development (Metaphorically Speaking), and more recently on the risks of using colloquial English with international colleagues who learned business English (English for English Speakers). I’d like to revisit the subject, as I still see a lot of confusion out in the world, and we’re still coining new terms that strike people differently than intended.
Continue reading The Problem with Metaphor
Balanced Professional Interest
Warning: Preachy content.
In working with technical people at the individual and team levels, I often find attitudes that pull toward one extreme or the other: Either our work is inherently uninteresting, and we’re only in it for the paycheck; or our work is a boundless source of joy, learning, and achievement through which we can transcend the human condition.
Both have it partly right. But I think both are missing a thing or two.
tl;dr (Conclusion in a nutshell)
Don’t be put off when agilists seem to be demanding more of you than is reasonable. They like to use extreme language, like awesome and passionate. They really mean competent and professionally engaged. On the other hand, software work is more than “just a paycheck,” even if it’s less than “a profession” in the sense of medicine or law. You have to do more than just show up.
Continue reading Balanced Professional Interest