Friday, May 21, 2010

Agile Manifesto Reprise - This Time it's Personal

Stole this from Ron Jeffries and I'm posting the whole thing cuz it's my story too except for maybe the cars:

>    Where will YOU be in 3 years?
Well, in my case I want to be alive and in good mental and physical

Looking back over various places I might have "wanted" to be, here's
what I think today: 

I thought I wanted promotions, to be given more "power" as a
recognition of how good I was. This reflected the organization I was
in, which valued power. I was wrong. I didn't get a lot of joy from
power. I did get joy from being able to solve harder and larger
problems by having more people working on them with me. 

I thought I wanted more money. This reflected my good taste in cars,
and has certainly given me some pleasure. However, the highest
paying jobs I have had were also the least pleasurable, and
ultimately my lack of pleasure in them caused me to perform poorly. 

I thought I wanted more women. You can imagine how that worked out. 

I thought I wanted to be like people I admired. Many of them were
major jerks (even more so than I am naturally) and emulating them
did not serve me well. 

What I want, today, is to spend every possible moment doing things
that I enjoy, with people I enjoy doing them with. I enjoy doing
things that I do well, and things where I can sense that I am
improving. I enjoy doing things that other people appreciate. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clarification of previous post

Actually, that last post was a nitpick - things are going well on this project.  My bottom line is in the black:  the question I've learned to ask myself about a job is whether it is an energy source or an energy sink, and this one has become a source.  The team is coalescing, including management, customer reps, etc., in spite of the legacy ceremony.

Trust/coherence is building, and the only question is whether/when management will perceive this and start dismantling the ceremonial edifice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Efficiency and Trust

Haven't posted for a while because I've started a new contract.  The team is nominally Agile, the customer is nominally on board, but ... not really.   There's a lot of ceremony, no pairing or TDD expected (although we would not be punished for doing it),  a lot of micromanagement of time with JIRA (be sure to charge that 15-minute daily standup to the right task!).

And I finally made the connection....

What do you do when your team/company is all excited to be “agile”, while your customers want to operate in the traditional, heavy-weight, documentation-driven approach?  ...  In most cases it turns out that they don’t trust the software team and hence they want to push all the risk to the software development side.
-- I Say Agile, You Say Traditional, Document-Driven

Ceremony is the cost of doing business in an environment without trust.  Agile is efficient because trust allows us to eliminate ceremonies of security/CYA/blame/risk-shifting, which waste resources.

The word "ceremony" as used in Agile circles could almost be glossed as "institutionalized Muda (waste)".  As an anthropologist, I think of it from the perspective of Durkheim: He saw religion as a mechanism that shored up or protected a threatened social order. 

For example, estimates "cast in stone" are sympathetic magic, telling a highly structured story in the hope of imposing certainty on a situation involving major unknown risks.  Estimates in a traditional environment are not a tool but a prayer - or an oath.


I will not identify the customer or the consulting company I'm subcontracting through.   Not for any reasons of trade secrets or confidentiality, but because of this:

The customer's dress code is the new biz casual - i.e., jeans, polo shirts and sneakers are fine for everyone.  The consultancy requires us to wear the old biz casual - no jeans, no sneakers, dress shirts.  I was told this is because we want to impress the customer by being "a level above them".

Consistent so far.

But then - we have casual Fridays!   Not the customer - they're always casual. Just the "one-level up" consultants.


It's like

... but because we really care about all our ... uh ... development associates ... ,  no beatings on Friday.


I won't believe a consulting company is Agile as long as it carries the baggage of the Old Biz Religion.

[UPDATE: see the clarification.]