Agile Instructions and Training

Often Dilbert says it best. I do have to wonder what will be the next fad du jour for software development.

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Measurements and Curfews

Measurements without consequences (rewards and punishments) is like giving a teenager a curfew and then not enforcing it. After very short period of time it gets ignored.

The adage what gets measured gets done is incomplete. What gets rewarded gets repeated is more complete.

If you establish a measurement it needs consequences both good and bad; otherwise, it will be ignored. By the way, if you have a teenager and you give them a curfew and don’t enforce it, your teenage will ignore the curfew.

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 11:12  Leave a Comment  

Where is the beef? Lean is just another buzzword.

I can’t help but think here we go again. So many people, especially those pesky consultants, jump right on the bandwagon. Here comes the books, the conference and especially those consultants. I am wondering where’s is the beef. I see a lot words (a lot of bun), but little beef in this new “lean” thing.

I am getting worn out working in an industry that goes from buzzword to buzzword. We are leaving Agile behind us and now turning towards “lean.” I know what lean means in regards to meat. It lean means without out fat or just the beef. I am not sure what it means in software other than defining what needs to be done.

I just got to ask, “Where’s is the beef?” Remember the Wendy’s Commercial from the 80’s.

I know, I know…here come all the emails full of buzzwords. How about trying to be more disciplined. How about trying to learn about the industry. How about moving an industry forward instead of jumping on the next buzzword and trying to make a buck from it.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 16:18  Leave a Comment  

Are we doomed?

Is History Repeating Itself?

About one hundred years ago blacksmiths were considered a highly skilled occupation and like software development, it was labor intensive.  While the blacksmith had been around for centuries, it was the Industrial Revolution that created a rapid growth in employment from 1880 and  1915[1].   The blacksmith was critical to the Industrial Revolution, and the software developer is a critical component of the information and knowledge revolutions.

If, in 1915, someone would have suggested to the million plus blacksmiths employed in the industrialized economies they would be obsolete in less than 50 years, they would have thought that person crazy.  The idea of working with metals, fabricating metals, did not evaporate; it was the role of blacksmith that became obsolete.    The role of blacksmithing turned into ironworkers, and those blacksmiths that did not learn the new skills of ironworkers were not able to find employment.

Instead of creating everything from scratch metal workers (weldings) began to assemble parts and pieces together.  We are seeing this same basic trend in software development today.

As software development rolls down the road of progress, the programmer will become obsolete; and the idea of software developer will continue into the future.  I imagine there are those reading proclaiming, “You will always need someone writing code,” and I am sure there were those blacksmiths who could not imagine a world without them, either.  It will be a combination of automation and outsourcing that will make the Western programmer obsolete.

The story of the blacksmith does not end with the decline of employment.  Today blacksmiths are artists and a novelty profession.  The British Artist Blacksmith Association (BABA) continues blacksmithing as an artist profession as well as offering courses on blacksmithing, and they have regular events..   It has nearly 700 members worldwide and their members create brilliant works of art.


[1] United States Statistical Abstract 1915.  Page 233 Table 158

New and Improved Software Titles

Software Psychologist – help software organizations over come its fears and phobias.

Software Psychiatrist – same as a software psychologist but they prescribe drugs.

Software Archeologist –dig around looking for project artifacts.

Software Paleontologist – dig around for looking for evidence the project actually existed.  They also theorize what killed projects.  It turns out most projects commit suicide.

Software Actor – they don’t actually do any project work.  They just act like they are working.  Software Actors attend a lot of meetings and repeat what others say.  Software Theologist – pray for project success.

Software Plumber – unclog software projects.  This is not a glamorous job and it requires cleaning the project toilet.

Software Janitor –pick up after everyone else.

Software CSI – study the forensic evidence to determine if a project was murdered or committed suicide.  By the way most projects commit suicide.

Software Entomologist – collect all types of bugs found during the project.

Software Zoologist – studies all kinds of animals that work on software projects

Software Tap Dancer – dances around difficult project issues

Software Linguist – helps translates the native tongue of a software developer into English.

Read more at www.RebootRethink.Com

Shifting Gears

Anyone who has ever chugged along trying to their teenage child how to drive a stick (manual transmission) can appreciate the complexity of the task. No doubt It is more complicated to teach a teenager (or anyone) how to drive a manual transmission than an automatic transmission. The reason being is in an automatic transmission much of the complexity of driving has been hidden away and is not seen by the driver.

The complexity was not just hidden it was transferred. It was transferred from the driver to the transmission because an automatic transmission is more complex than a manual transmission. An automatic transmission is more complex (and expensive) to design, build, and maintain too. As software development matures we see much of the complexity being hidden from users. As an example, look at the complexity of booking a hotel reservation or airline reservation. Most of the complexity of has been nicely tucked away.  It cost a ton of money to hide all that complexity and functionality.   Once upon a time it took a trained travel agent to book an airline flight. Nowadays just about anyone can accomplish this task.

My teenage daughter drove to school today chugging and grinding the gears.  In due time she will learn to drive a stick shift.  The same is true with software development.  We are chugging along and grinding the gears trying to transition from internal applications (exposed complexity) to customer self service (hidden complexity)

Agile Coach — WTF mate?

Like a lot of people I put my resume on job sites.  Yesterday I was sent an automated human resources message.  It read, “A job opening matching your profile for a position of Sr Principal Agile Coach has just been posted in our Career Section.” There is nothing in my resume that shows an interest in becoming an Agile.   I thought well, perhaps, the human resource bot searched the internet and got a lot hits on David Longstreet and Agile (there are over 500).   Perhaps it was my article, “Agile Methods and Other Fairy Tales” that got the bots attention.

Perhaps it was the fact that those professionals in Agile wrote that I was a troll or “a so called international consultant.”  As an FYI, when anyone starts a sentence with “a so called…” what follows is not going to be a complement.

I decided to apply for the position to see what happens and I will keep you all informed.

For those who want to read my ideas on Agile (and for those HR bots) you can see them at http://www.softwaremetrics.com/Agile/

My Lord

This post has nothing to do with software because it is about traveling.  I was traveling in Europe last week and I caught a British Airways (BA) flight at London Heathrow Airport. BA allows you to choose a title when making reservations. In America we can choose a titles, and we can choose Mr; Mrs; Ms; and Dr. BA has a few more including Sir and Lord. I have to admit when I made my reservation I struggled between Lord and Sir. In the end I went with Lord.

I had a hectic day and I had forgotten about my new self proclaimed title. I checked in and provided my confirmation number and the BA ticket agent addressed me as “Lord Longstreet.” A smile came to my face and I thought, “Now that is what I am talking about.”  The ticket agent did not address me as My Grace or My Lord and I was a bit dissapointed.  While I like my self proclaimed  title of Lord, I think I need to upgrade to Duke or Earl. I like the sound of Duke David.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 10:26  Leave a Comment  
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Quality 911

I was channel surfing and came across the show Nanny 911.  The premise of the show is that there are families who cannot control their children, so they call Nanny 911.  The nanny focuses on the behaviors of the parents rather than the behavior of the children.  A nanny trying to control the behavior of children is analogous to putting your hand in a bucket of water in hopes of displacing water.  Your hand displaces the water, but as soon as your hand is removed, the water goes back to its original position.  The same analogy holds true for the quality department.  It is impossible to enforce quality standards within an organization without holding management accountable.

The nanny teaches parents that children need to have boundaries, and children need to understand there are consequences to their behaviors. Generally, the consequence for the children is timeout.  Since there is no adult time out, a manager can’t put an employee in time out; so, other types of consequences must be adopted.

Too often, quality consultants are focused to helping employees implement a process or fine tune existing processes.    They need to be working and consulting with senior management so management understands they have a role in implementing quality programs.

The bottom line, folks can work, talk, train, cajole, sell, and communicate process until blue in the face; but if management does not enforce the desired process, then the process is not going to happen.  By enforce, I mean there have to be consequences to following the process and for not following the process.  A consequence does include loss of job.  Many successful managers I have worked with do fire people for not following the process, and they also reward those who do follow the process.

Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 18:37  Leave a Comment  
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When the only tool you have is coding…

Abraham Maslow  once quipped,  “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  If the only tool you have is coding then you tend to see every problem as a programming problem.