Adopting a new development methodology is less about process change and more about attitude change. The binder is useful, but the mindset is vital.
Much of my work over the last few years has involved helping organizations “adopt” Agile. It is, after all, a poor, unloved orphan and needs to find a good home. The key to whether the new approach sticks doesn’t seem to be affected by how many checklists, process maps or charts of roles and responsibilities we provide; what matters is whether an organization can adjust their collective and individual attitudes.
There’s a great quote from the 14th Dalai Lama that says:
“If you donâ€™t like whatâ€™s happening in your life, change your mind.”
Beyond the double meaning of “if you don’t like it, decide to like it” is the more important idea that to change your behaviors you need to change your thoughts.
Continue reading “Change your attitude and the process will follow”
I always struggled to see how what Lean teaches us about pull systems can be applied to software development processes. That was until I had an “Aha!” moment a little while ago helping a client apply lean and agile principles to their delivery process.
The big fat lie
I understand how queuing theory can help identify and reduce bottlenecks in processes and have used finger-charts and kanban-boards to do this for a while, but I still find calling this a “pull system” to be slightly disingenuous. All that’s happening is that more “stuff” is being pushed based on a trigger when certain buckets get too low. This reminds me of my annoyance with early technologies on the web that were touted as being “push” but were really just “repetitive-pull” (but not in a good way). I’ve never seen a software organization where the developers have said to the business or product people “we’ve got nothing to do, can you think up some new projects or features for us please?”.
Continue reading “Don’t push requirements – pull information”
Have you ever opened up a file of source code and flinched at the complexity that comes screaming out at you from the screen? Well I’m imagining an IDE plugin that could do the screaming for you.
There are many measures of code that are objective and metrics driven, but there are others that are more subjective and taste based. I can’t tell you from a quick glance how many afferent couplings there are in a given piece of code, but I do have an almost immediate sense of how elegant the code is. In my mind elegance is all about solving complex problems with simple solutions. That’s the art rather than the science of computer programming.
Continue reading “Simple code is music to my ears”
My new favorite t-shirt says “design can change the world”. I got it from a cool little not-for-profit whose cunning designs have a disproportionate impact in solving problems in developing countries.
Their current flagship project, the hippo roller, though not much more than a tough plastic barrel and pulling handle, is beginning to have an immense impact on the role of women in developing societies.
Continue reading “Design can change the world”
Have you ever noticed how teams who are new to Agile often struggle if they attempt to adopt just one or two of the XP practices? And have you noticed how the solution is often to introduce more practices?
I had been developing a theory about the interdependence of various software development practices when I got the chance to work through some of these ideas in a session I facilitated with some fellow ThoughtWorks colleagues. We uncovered some interesting connections and an important positive feedback loop that is worth being aware of when trying to help teams adopt Agile. The session happened at least a year ago, but I’ve only just been prodded into posting the output.
San Francisco is a wonderful place – I ended up having an interesting discussion last night with a self-styled “geek-at-large” about robots, ethics and unix while hanging out at a not-for-profit who are improving the world one wi-fi network at a time.
The robot maker’s argument was that robots don’t have to be super intelligent to carry out some pretty useful, robotic, tasks. He was suggesting that there’s a blind-alley in robotic research premised on being able to map and track everything in your environment in order to move and interact effectively. His argument was that instead you just needed to be able to identify a goal to move towards and be able to avoid collisions. That is a much simpler goal than understanding your whole environment.
Continue reading “Robot rights? My foot!”
I think I first heard the phrase “the first bite is with the eye” from a TV chef, but it applies equally to the software creation process as it does to cookery.
A user’s interaction with a piece of software or web site is as much emotional as it is functional. Compare the soft, warm, fuzzy feeling you get when first interacting with a product from 37 Signals, say, to the stomach churning reaction you get when booting up Lotus Notes, for example.
This immediate emotional response will pervade the whole of a user’s long-term impression of a product, imbuing their relationship with whatever feeling was conjured up in those preliminary interactions. They say that in most job interviews the interviewer makes up their mind within the first 5 minutes. The same is equally true for software.
Continue reading “The first bite is with the eye”
My most recent project was helping a major online retailer to mature their build process as part of a wider effort to improve their IT effectiveness through the injection of development best practices.
When we came onboard manual intervention was needed for any of their builds or deployments to work and so it was rare for more than a couple of builds or deployments to be completed successfully in a day. Now we often have up to 1,000 builds running every day – what’s more the majority of them now pass!
This article looks at a few of the techniques we’ve had to put in place to enable this transformation and what we’ve learnt along the way.
Continue reading “Build Transformation across an Organization”
Discussions have been flying around the ThoughtWorks communication channels on balancing the risk of dynamic languages against the pain of static languages. This got me thinking about the similarities between what makes teams work well and what makes for good code and object interactions.
Continue reading “Programming considered harmful”
With Google measuring the efficiency of their code in the amount of gigawatts required to serve it to millions of people, optimizing applications can actually have a positive impact on the world.
Logicalis have put together some advice on how to reduce the impact of IT on the environment. The suggestions range from reducing hardware requirements through virtualization and other consolidation techniques to old favorites like double-sided printing, video-conferencing, electronic forms and turning off your desktop at night.
Continue reading “Can virtualization save the real world?”