Monthly Archives: May 2006
I just finished reading Agile Software Development by Cockburn in the last few days and it’s a very good book to get an introduction to the subject. Lots of the ideas in there ring back memories from the MBA and knowledge management actually.
For one the sender, receiver problem and frame of reference. The thing is that communication involves a sender, a receiver and a channel. The big problem is that while the channel has noise, both sender and receiver have a frame of reference that puts what they say or hear into the right context for them. This means that you can very easily not understand each other correctly. One solution here would be to often do something like this: “So what you are saying is, just so I understand it correctly, … .” This will also help if you try to win over people and notice a flaw in their reasoning.
The frame of reference will only get a sound base after the norming, storming, performing phases of building a team have been gone through. This is also one of the reasons why outsourcing is a problem. You will not go through that phase and a performing team is a lot better than a norming or storming team. You will have to have so good documentation that frames of reference or noise in the channel are not important.
Cockburn actually says that software development is like rock climbing. It’s cooperative and goal seeking, yet load bearing between different people of a team that are still individuals with different talents. It’s very skill sensitive and requires training as well as the right tools. The resources are limited and you have a plan around which you improvise. It’s fun, challenging and dangerous. Great analogy.
What this also means is that you need to find the right amount of documentation and keep it so rough that you don’t need to continuously update it. This is really where it gets hard for new entries into the team, depending on how much shared vocabulary you already have.
Understanding how people work, behave, interact is key. They make mistake and this is why Agile wants short iterations, to catch them fast and keep them from growing fangs. People prefer to fail conservatively than to succeed differently.
Through University we are taught to be unique (just thinking of how unique your final thesis in germany has to be), and this makes it a none team effort and something that does not make people reuse code as such. Therefore you need to make sure that your culture, attitude and people’s education makes them want to reuse.
Another important item is “flow”. Developers, or anyone actually, get into a flow after 20 minutes of quite time. Turning of the phones for 2 hours is important to really get there at least for a few hours a day.
Motivation is another key part, which can come from three different areas: pride-in-work, pride-in-accomplishment, pride-in-contribution. That is oversimplifying it a little bit as everyone is different, but it seems about right. Another might be fear, but then again that might not be motivation then But if you want to use the above, split projects into small phases.
Osmotic communication means sitting people together, at best from different parts of the organization because they will pick stuff up if they want it or not. Information radiators are good here too, which is something that VISA used very well actually. Written use cases can be used for information stickyness.
So where is the sweetspot. 2-8 people in a room, 2-4 week increments, fully automated regression tests, experienced developers, reflection after each increment, usage experts in each team.
Great stuff all in all. Looking forward to pushing more into this with the new team.
The typical ramp up time for new employees is 3-6 months. With FON having hired loads of people the last few months, it seems that speed is finally kicking in. The next firmware is announced for end of june and it will support two SSID’s, meaning that you will have a private network where you can also share the LAN (like my network storage) while keeping it of the public network (something missing in 0.6.5). FON also released the pricing idea for their system, meaning that if you are a Linus you will also be able to surf for free on Bill hotspots! Very cool indeed. And while we are at it, the FON router will come out in September and the Linksys you can buy over them is currently 19 EURs until first of June! It’s a great box, buy one.
Technorati Tags: FON, nocat, wifi
The MacBook is here, as I first read on TUAW and the top line model is black! First, they are nice. It would have been nice if it were even smaller and a bit lighter but yes it is very nice it seems. And the pricing strategy is brilliant. The thing is that the biggest model is black. Biggest in this case means it has 20GB more hard disk space. And it’s black. Very black. And it’s 200 EURs more expensive!!! This is the cool model that all those people will have that really believe it is worth the 200 EURs. Brilliant pricing strategy from Apple. Brilliant.
P.S.: I admit, I might even be one of those but I am trying to not to give in.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Black, Macbook
Guy Kewney is a technology journalist. One of the first in the UK it seems, or so I am told. Now the BBC wanted to interview him and pulled somebody in from the street that they thought was him. He wasn’t.
Guy Kewney – a white, bearded technology expert – was astonished to see himself appear on screen as a black man with an apparent French accent. Check the Video here: The BBC’s latest star – a baffled cabbie | the Mail on Sunday
Technorati Tags: BBC News, Kewney, Taxi Driver, Video
Techcrunch is reporting that Skype is announcing that calls from Skype to a landline or mobile phone in the U.S. or Canada are now free, through the end of the year. The little limit is that you have to be in the US at the time of the call. Emmm… whatever happened to VoIP being internet based and hence location less. I mean if I use skype it travels over IP lines until it hits the final switch where it goes onto the phone lines. If somebody could explain the reasoning (ex not hurting telcos) to this, then please do.
Technorati Tags: Skype, VoIP
If a big serial entrepreneur in Europe talks, you should listen. So here are some of the things that Martin Varsavsky believes in:
- That America is the most productive country in the world until you divide that productivity per hour worked.
- That America is going broke thanks to lawyers and the military.
- That the Clintons will run America again and the world will be a better place…again.
- That thereÂ´s a very weak link between terrorism and lack of opportunity and a very strong link between terrorism….and opportunity.
- That wealth is the best contraceptive.
- That we think we know a lot and people in the 1800s did not. But we will look as ignorant to people in 200 years.
- That the ethics of biodiesel are wrong, that is wrong to feed food to cars in a world in which thereÂ´s starvation.
- That Europeans make a huge mistake taxing employment so heavily with social charges and that is the main reason for European unemployment.
- That when children are born democracies should give their vote to their parents until they are 14. The parent will then vote twice, one for themselves and another one for their children. When the children reach 14 they would have the right to vote themselves. It is a well known fact of democracies that the poorest citizens in democracies are children and I believe this is because they are not represented through the voting process.
- That nuclear energy is not as bad as people think when compared to the alternatives.
Strong words, very interesting ones and great food for thought. Thanks for that bold move Martin. There are too few people that expose themselves for their views because they become vulnerable.
Technorati Tags: America, Biodiesel, Contraceptive, Democracy, Ethics, Europe, Nuclear Power, Poverty, Versavsky, Wealth