Friday, January 22, 2010

Japanese Proverb

Just read an article containing this Japanese proverb:

"If you don't know what to do, take a step forward"

It's been a long time since I have read anything that sums up iterative improvement quite so well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Using agile tools takes away some of your intuition

It's no secret, I really don't like using tools to run agile projects. More than that, in my opinion giving an inexperienced agile team an "agile tool" is like giving a toddler a chainsaw - it's going to end badly. Give me index cards, pens and a whiteboard anyday.

Allan Kelly has beaten me to blogging about tools - and hit upon an interesting anecdote from Jack Kilby, inventor of the silicon chip. Basically Jack believes that the replacement of the slide rule with calculators has taken something away from engineering. Intuition. Using a tool (the calculator) distanced the engineer from needing to know what he was doing (the calculation). As someone who has used both calculator and slide rule, I tend to agree.

And here lies the problem with agile tools.

Using complex tools takes away a basal intuition about what you are trying to do. You lose that indefinable "connection" with the product. You might even say you lose the craftmanship. Another illustration might be the difference between bland, machined furniture and furniture that has been hand crafted by skilled cabinet makers - building 'by hand' copes effortlessly with the small, unexpected imperfections that rigid machine programs do not cope well with, resulting in a more polished product. That's not to say the cabinet makers don't use the occasional power drill or sander - but they understand when it is appropriate.

So stick with cards and pens at first until you understand when using tools (and which one!) is appropriate. Keep you intuition intact. Your product will be better for it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Have tea with Energized Work

Those nice people at Energized Work have extended an offer for an informal chat - all for the cost of a cup of tea (or coffee, in Gus' case, although I've heard he is quite partial to green tea).

So if you would like to see a presentation, or brown bag, or simply want to chat with the 2009 Gordon Pask Award winners and see what makes them tick, then drop them a line.

One thing I can guarantee - you will find the meeting challenging and productive.