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RE: [agile-usability] Re: top down, or bottom up?

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  • Hugh Beyer
    ... fish ... meaningful and ... notes ... an accurate ... stands. I think we need a contextual designer to speak up and debunk what I ve said. Contextual
    Message 1 of 36 , Apr 25 10:33 PM

      > well here again Jeff's posts surprised me, but in a
      different way.

      > I hadn't considered that anyone would
      really work from the clam and
      fish 
      > level activities and build
      up a larger picture and hope that
      meaningful and 
      > sensible
      business operations would emerge from that picture. Jeff's
      notes 
      > indicate that Holzblatt's techniques do just exactly that, which if
      an accurate 
      > portrayal, says that I am surprised, and Jeff's
      question still
      stands.

      I think we need a contextual designer to speak up and debunk what
      I've said.  Contextual design does gather a lot of very low level
      data... and I believe it's pretty valuable stuff.  They've even got a
      handy tool to keep that data, and help that big picture emerge - or
      look back and make sure the big picture that did emerged is still
      accurate as more data comes in.  [http://www.incent.com/cdtools]

      [It's important to point out that the data gathered represents fish
      and clam level details about people, current workflow using current
      software products or paper driven approaches - not clam level details
      about the software we'll be building.  /Those/ clam level details are
      a product of design.] 
       
      Hah. Until you added the stuff in brackets I was going to jump all over you. :-)
       
      That is the critical distinction that hasn't been brought out until now. The activity of discovering what's going on with the user is totally separate from figuring out what you as a systems designer should do about it. In our method (CD) we start by gathering clam-level details about the *existing work practice*--what people do on a day-to-day basis. We do this because people's self-reported goals *are not reliable*--they can state some of the high-level goals, but not all, and not the strategies that are critical to reaching those goals--and critical to any systems design process.
       
      While gathering these clam-level details we discover the strategies and intents (confirming them with the users, of course)--so we're hoisting ourselves up out of the depths until we're at the kite level. A full CD project may well pull us all the way out to satellite ("this whole business is here to enable *this* relationship.").
       
      Then, once we've understood the problem, we can start talking about how to design solutions to it (process solutions, business solutions, and also, by the way, technical solutions). This is more like what Alistair is describing--usually it's not in our mandate to redesign the whole business so we're usually starting at about kite level. We use the process to design, iteratively, at progressively descending levels until we have a concrete system mapped out.
       
      In fact, when I teach I often draw this as a mountain--climb the mountain on one side from little user data instances to general intents and themes; descend the mountain on the other side from high-level design solution to detailed specification.
       
      So to address Alistair's point directly: Yes, you can start from clam-level activities and build up meaningful and sensible business operations from that. In fact, it's the only accurate way to do it. We've gone into too many companies where the managers and process people tell us, with great authority, "this is how we do things"-- and the people doing the work show us something completely different.
       
          Hugh
       

      Hugh R. Beyer, CTO
      InContext
      Ph: 603 966-7188
      Email:beyer@...

    • Glen B Alleman
      Alistair, Crystal has a variety of options. Others are narrower. Few are as broadly based as your approach. I m more focused on specific development method
      Message 36 of 36 , May 8, 2005
        Alistair,

        Crystal has a variety of options. Others are narrower. Few are as broadly
        based as your approach. I'm more focused on specific development method that
        move outside their "sweet spot" leaking into other areas - off the sweet
        spot. I see this not as an issue of the method but it's application. Mis
        applied CMMI, mis applied XP, mis applied TOC.

        Glen

        -----Original Message-----
        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of aacockburn
        Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2005 10:46 AM
        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods

        I'm sure you mean "almost" everyone, Glen --- I've been researching
        and publishing on the topic of selecting methods for over a decade
        now, have a PhD, three books, a dozen articles and most of a website
        on the question of selecting a process. I'm not alone: that aspect of
        my PhD wasn't considered novel at all but rather as fully established
        in the research community; Capers Jones talks about it in his
        benchmarking book; RUP and the UP are all about that; Boehm has a
        book and articles about it, there are others.

        By this late date, the notion of a single methodology as a silver
        bullet is severely outmoded.

        Alistair

        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Glen B Alleman"
        <glen.alleman@n...> wrote:
        > Jon,
        >
        >
        >
        > The problem of deciding how to apply a processes to a problem
        domain is
        > nearly universal. Ranging from heavy to light. I've experienced
        poorly
        > applied CMMI to poorly applied XP and everything in between. No
        one seem to
        > want to approach the "improvement" process from an external point -
        as you
        > suggest - selecting the right process for the problem. I'm
        searching though
        > for the solution - none found so far. Everyone's got a silver
        bullet looking
        > for the werewolf to shoot ;>)
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B. Alleman
        >
        > <http://www.niwotridge.com> www.niwotridge.com
        >
        > www.niwotridge.com/Blog
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
        > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Kern
        > Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 6:36 PM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        >
        >
        > i don't think there is any indication that anyone meant that all
        heavy
        > processes are to hide incompetence.
        >
        > however, i submit there are at least a few reasons for introducing
        process:
        > - because someone has a good set of steps worth repeating (good
        teams do
        > this automatically)
        > - because someone wants to ensure a set of steps are done and
        may not
        > trust the doer at knowing what to do (bureaucracies are good at
        doing this)
        >
        > i hope i left wiggle room in my original post for applying the
        right process
        > for the right reasons. my flippant remarks are intended to jolt
        people into
        > thinking if they are applying the right level of process. a
        heavyweight
        > process (such as might be applied in your NQA-1 example) applied to
        a
        > mediocre business app is probably not an effective use of resources.
        >
        > also, i have seen people conduct process steps "just because" --
        either
        > because they cannot think for themselves, or that they are dis-
        incented to
        > not follow process, or they are naive, or they do not care if they
        are
        > wasting resources (money and time).
        >
        > but, for a mission critical app, i hope the right process is
        followed... as
        > it is in almost every "hard" engineering discipline i ever worked
        within.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > -- jon
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B Alleman said the following on 5/6/2005 8:54 AM:
        >
        > Jon,
        >
        >
        >
        > Mission critical can be applied outside man rated as NASA uses that
        term.
        > Mission critical can be applied to a brad variety of system from
        process
        > control, to supply chain management. Pacemakers are 21CFR,
        petrochem is OSHA
        > 1910.119, rod control for a reactor is NQA-1, the ground mission
        planning
        > and dispatch for air defense has another framework.
        >
        >
        >
        > The comment (now seen a flippant) that poor developers hide behind
        high
        > ceremony struck me a uninformed about those working in the high
        ceremony
        > development envirnemnt that also use agile methods. Thy are not
        mutually
        > exclusive
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
        > From: <mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com>
        > agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-
        usability@yahoogroups.com] On
        > Behalf Of Jon Kern
        > Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 5:17 AM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        >
        >
        > please define mission-critical...
        > man-rated, mission critical systems are a different story.
        >
        > always attach the right level of rigor and process as needed...
        >
        > software for an embedded pacemaker is different than making an
        online
        > mortgage loan application system.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > -- jon
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B Alleman said the following on 5/5/2005 11:40 AM:
        >
        > As one who leads CMMI IPPD development this is likely not true in
        > practice...but simply conjecture on the part of those not
        practicing heavy
        > processes in a mission critical environment.
        >
        > Glen B Alleman
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of aacockburn
        > Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 9:35 AM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        > At least, they will defend them because it's easier to hid :-)
        >
        >
        > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Cummins, Darin"
        > <mailto:Darin_Cummins@a...> <Darin_Cummins@a...> wrote:
        > > If you twist this one more time, does that imply that incompetent
        > > developers choose heavy processes because it's easier to hide? ;-)
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
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