Friday, March 04, 2011

David West, Espalier and Agility


I like to re-read this presentation Dave West gave back in 2001, once a year. This paper contains a whole bunch of great material about complexity science, Dorsai, how software development IS reality construction, espalier and how Greece vs. Rome is relevant to software engineering.
There's also a nice slide comparing the Agile Manifesto and Extreme Programming, useful for a client presentation. In case you don't want to read the deck:
  1. Agile says: we value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.  XP says: put the individuals together and have them work this way.
  2. Agile says: we value working software over comprehensive documentation.  XP says: write software the first day and every day, test the first day and every day, refactor the first day and every day.
  3. Agile says: We value customer collaboration over contract negotiation.  XP says: Sit the customer down with the programmers and have them steer the project every single day.
  4. Agile says: We value responding to change over following a plan.  XP says: Set up intense and rapid feedback and govern yourselves by it.
  5. The fact is, XP's real viewpoint is so radical that it can't even be properly expressed by comparing with those wimpy weightless Agile preferences.

Espalier is one of the concepts Dave mentions in the presentation and the photo is a physical example of hedge espalier at Heronswood Gardens.

Yoda and Architecture

DC Metro

Quoting a friend of mine impersonating Yoda on the nature of architecture:

"An architect a designer is.
A designer an architect is not."
While I thought I understood it at first, it really took some time plus spending more time with both to really understand the difference. From what I have observed (and practiced myself), designers are really focused on form plus function whereas architects are focused on intended use and managing complexity. That's what I have found to be different about the two roles.

The photo is of a Washington, DC Metro station, perhaps the Union Station stop if I recall correctly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Agile Anti-Patterns

Flood - not a fish ladder

I was re-reading The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil and it provided the inspiration for a different way of presenting some of agile anti-patterns I have observed over the years. Instead of droning on about what not to do and what to avoid, I think a more active voice would be a little more entertaining and perhaps make the anti-pattern a lot easier to recognize in the real world. The next handful of posts will feature some of the very effective anti-patterns I have seen.

This photo was taken at Deception Falls State Park in Washington, last spring. The winter run-off from the snow-packs was still pretty fierce and some of the overflow from the river made it onto the trail. Plenty of erosion was taking place and struck me as a good way to illustrate how anti-patterns effect projects.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The First Expense To Cut Is Powerpoint

Yet another company in crisis is finding how much of a time-waster powerpoint is. Via Bob Sutton's blog, an article in the financial times about powerpoint at GM. I just love point #5. Are you really interested in saving time and money? Remove powerpoint from your PCs.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Agile Sunset?

Based only on my own observations, I think capital-A Agile is on the wane. When mega-consultancies have Agile practices, it's pretty clear that Agile is mainstream, in whatever extraordinarily diluted form it may take. We are now in the long tail of the Agile hype-cycle where Agile has almost become a mandatory label on any project management or software development process. Long live "Agile - * ".

I think a lot of useful lessons (that will actually stick) have come out of this extreme pendulum swing, though. Many have realized that waterfall is just a death-march but, they have also realized there is no Agile Faerie Dust, either. Plus, there is not one methodology to rule them all.

Agile principles certainly have an ongoing role to play but, there is no single recipe. Realizing that may be the biggest benefit of all.

(This is a photo I took of a sunset at Bellingham Bay, several years ago.)