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RE: [agile-usability] zooming, porpoising, and goal level

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  • Hugh Beyer
    Jeff Patton: This idea of goal level, or abstraction level, and the comparison of goals at a high level to the smaller goals at another level seems pretty
    Message 1 of 23 , May 3, 2005

      Jeff Patton: "This idea of goal level, or abstraction level, and the comparison of goals
      at a high level to the smaller goals at another level seems pretty critical
      to what we're doing.  The idea that upper level goals are validated against
      real world observation of the activities people are doing and the context
      they do them also seems critical [ . . . ] I'm not very well read, but in the
      few books I have read, and the few people I have worked with, I don't recall
      anyone drawing attention to this concept as critical.  Is it too obvious, or
      did I overlook the message when I heard it?”

       

      It’s an important distinction, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t show up in some form or other. We talk about developing a design the way a painter develops an oil painting—rather than working on the hand in detail, then an eye, then the other hand, then an ear, the painter sketches in the whole painting in rough—gets all the parts in right relationship to each other—then goes in and fills in the detail. In our process, this is the role of visioning—to sketch the overall high-level vision (kite to giraffe level, depending on the project) which can then be refined in detail.

       

      Alistair Cockburn: “The opposite statement of the above is that with good facilitation, and

      if the requirements gathering people are alert, there are lots of clues

      spoken out loud in every meeting that tell you what's going on at the

      clam level --- Mind, I recognize that this is doing the clam-up work

      real-time within the group discussion and while driving home, but still

      I claim the information is on the table.”

       

      So just to clarify what the points of disagreement are, you are agreeing that the analysis has to be clam-up, just disagreeing on what technique is necessary for doing that analysis? I’d argue in fact that any user-centered design process must be clam-up or it’s not UCD. After all, if you’re not starting with individual users’ work, you’re not starting with users, you’re starting with some abstraction.

       

      Alistair Cockburn: “Perhaps you can post a couple of the most interesting surprises you've
      uncovered in the clam-up analyses you've run?  Of course, what Jeff
      and I discovered is that lots of things look obvious after they've been
      named. Our analysis should cover exactly what bits of discussion
      amongst the analysts triggered the discovery of those items.”

       

      You ask a fair question… on the one hand every project reveals such surprises, on the other most of it belongs to our clients. Others have offered good answers to this, but here’s two quick examples off the top of my head.

       

      On practically the first project we worked on as a business, the user population consisted of system managers, who uniformly reported that 60-70% of their work was focused on diagnosis and troubleshooting of failing systems. CI field interviews revealed that maybe 10-20% of their work was diagnosis and troubleshooting. Most of their time was spent on routine maintenance tasks. We’ve found this is typical—users can’t tell you how they allot their time really—they put too much emphasis on what is the “real” job, the interesting, valuable, knowledge work, and overlook the time spent on “unimportant” parts of the job.

       

      On another project, we were studying chip fabrication. We were told how rigid all their requirements were for handling the wafers and how carefully they were followed. But when we observed, we saw people doing something called “roll transfers”—tossing a stack of wafers from one carrier to another without using the machine that was especially designed for the purpose—in violation of procedure. We might, with good facilitation have discovered that people break the rules this way. We would not, I think, have understood why people risk their jobs (or at least their performance appraisals) to do this kind of transfer when they don’t have to.

       

      Alistair Cockburn: “In fact it's pretty much a tautology that weak practitioners produce

      weak outcomes, regardless of the process; and any successful project

      builds its success on the competent and experienced people present.

      There is no distinction available here for agile / waterfall / UCD /

      bottom-up / top-down etc.”

       

      Very true, but it’s possible to take the argument too far. A sawmill, table saw, and jigsaw can all injure you but they vary greatly in the amount of damage they’re likely to do and the speed at which they’ll do it.

       

      I’m currently working with a client who spent two months traveling around the world spending days with over 80 users. I guarantee you that even an untrained designer or even (horror of horrors) developer would, after such an experience, design a much more suitable system than one who had only conducted focus groups. In the same way a rapid-iteration agile process will make it much harder to develop the wrong system without knowing it.

       

                  Hugh

       

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

       

    • Rob Keefer
      I d like to take Hugh s analogy to the painter a step further. Master painters will work out the intricate details of a painting in a sketchbook. (XPers call
      Message 2 of 23 , May 3, 2005
        I'd like to take Hugh's analogy to the painter a step further. 'Master' painters will work out the intricate details of a painting in a sketchbook. (XPers call this a spike solution.) Once they have figured out the detail, it is then applied to the main composition.
         
        I wonder if this is what is going on when we look at the clam level. Working out details with particular users helps find solutions to particular problems that can then be placed in a larger context.
         

        Hugh Beyer <beyer@...> wrote:

        Jeff Patton: "This idea of goal level, or abstraction level, and the comparison of goals
        at a high level to the smaller goals at another level seems pretty critical
        to what we're doing.  The idea that upper level goals are validated against
        real world observation of the activities people are doing and the context
        they do them also seems critical [ . . . ] I'm not very well read, but in the
        few books I have read, and the few people I have worked with, I don't recall
        anyone drawing attention to this concept as critical.  Is it too obvious, or
        did I overlook the message when I heard it?�

         

        It�s an important distinction, and I�d be surprised if it didn�t show up in some form or other. We talk about developing a design the way a painter develops an oil painting�rather than working on the hand in detail, then an eye, then the other hand, then an ear, the painter sketches in the whole painting in rough�gets all the parts in right relationship to each other�then goes in and fills in the detail. In our process, this is the role of visioning�to sketch the overall high-level vision (kite to giraffe level, depending on the project) which can then be refined in detail.

         

        Alistair Cockburn: �The opposite statement of the above is that with good facilitation, and

        if the requirements gathering people are alert, there are lots of clues

        spoken out loud in every meeting that tell you what's going on at the

        clam level --- Mind, I recognize that this is doing the clam-up work

        real-time within the group discussion and while driving home, but still

        I claim the information is on the table.�

         

        So just to clarify what the points of disagreement are, you are agreeing that the analysis has to be clam-up, just disagreeing on what technique is necessary for doing that analysis? I�d argue in fact that any user-centered design process must be clam-up or it�s not UCD. After all, if you�re not starting with individual users� work, you�re not starting with users, you�re starting with some abstraction.

         

      • aacockburn
        ... wrote: AC:
        Message 3 of 23 , May 4, 2005
          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
          wrote:
          AC:<<I'll posit a slightly extreme position in this post, mostly for
          the sake of discussion, that if you are finding that people's self
          reported goals are unreliable, then you had a lousy Facilitator and
          the requirements gathering people had wax in their ears.
          The opposite statement of the above is that with good
          facilitation, and if the requirements gathering people are alert,
          there are lots of clues spoken out loud in every meeting that tell
          you what's going on at the clam level --- Mind, I recognize that this
          is doing the clam-up work real-time within the group discussion and
          while driving home, but still I claim the information is on the table.
          >>

          > So just to clarify what the points of disagreement are, you are
          agreeing
          > that the analysis has to be clam-up, just disagreeing on what
          technique is
          > necessary for doing that analysis?

          egad, I don't see how you drew that conclusion! I posited one
          position and its opposite, the latter with two 'if' statements in it.
          How does that get interpreted as agreement that analysis "has to be"
          clam-up?

          Quite the non-opposite. I can't imagine that analysis "has to be"
          clam up (or top-down). I can imagine that clam-level details show
          themselves to be useful.



          > I'd argue in fact that any user-centered
          > design process must be clam-up or it's not UCD. After all, if
          you're not
          > starting with individual users' work, you're not starting with
          users, you're
          > starting with some abstraction.

          I'll let someone else take issue with assertion --- since I'm not a
          UCD person, I don't personally care whether it carries the UCD tag or
          not. I'm only asking whether one gets a good result, and if so, am
          quite fine if all the UCD people in the world break out in hives from
          the manner in which that good result is achieved.

          Jeff's question is essentially, can one get a good result middle-up-
          down-with-some-clam-stuff-showing-up-along-the-way (my way), or
          bottom-up (the UCD way), or both? And does it actually matter which
          path is followed, since it seems both seem sensitive to the quality
          of the person doing the work?

          I'm starting to think the quality of the person trumps the method.
        • aacockburn
          p.s. nice note on the examples, Hugh, thanks ... sawmill, table ... amount of ... Once again it looks like you trimmed too much out of my post and lost the
          Message 4 of 23 , May 4, 2005
            p.s. nice note on the examples, Hugh, thanks


            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
            wrote:
            > Very true, but it's possible to take the argument too far. A
            sawmill, table
            > saw, and jigsaw can all injure you but they vary greatly in the
            amount of
            > damage they're likely to do and the speed at which they'll do it.
            >

            Once again it looks like you trimmed too much out of my post and lost
            the context in constructing a response. Here are all three
            paragraphs:
            <<--- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Anita Salem" <asalem@s...>
            wrote:
            > many facilitators I see are not well versed in interviewing
            > techniques.
            > So my question is, how do we address the reality of underskilled
            > practitioners? Are we overly optimistic that anyone can be a "good"
            > facilitator? Interviewing is a specialized skill and one my
            students have a
            > very difficult time with. I can't remember where I heard it
            exactly (one of
            > the sessions from the "In Use" conference I think ) where it was
            proposed
            > that in order for agile methods to be effective, the team members
            need to be
            > highly skilled and experienced. Can agile methods work effectively
            with
            > underskilled practitioners or are they an elite development
            methodology?
            > Anita

            AC:<<Yes, Larry Constantine likes to advertise that agile methods
            won't
            work with underskilled practitioners, but frankly, no technique works
            with underskilled practitioners. I don't think any of us here would
            assert that UCD produces fine systems with slapdash, undermotivated,
            hasty, untrained practioners --- or that ditto practioners would
            produce good systems when working in a waterfall fashion; or that
            ditto practitioners would produce good systems when working in an
            agile fashion.
            In fact it's pretty much a tautology that weak practioners produce
            weak outcomes, regardless of the process; and any successful project
            builds its success on the competent and experienced people present.
            There is no distinction available here for agile / waterfall / UCD /
            bottom-up / top-down etc.
            >>


            The long form of the deduction, which I was hoping I wouldn't have to
            try to recall and type in (hence the short form phrase "tautology")
            goes like this:

            Larry stands on stage and says, "The trouble with agile methods is
            that you need competent and experienced people to make them work."
            People nod their heads as though they understand, because the human
            brain seems wired to switch to the inverse, which doesn't logically
            follow ... when in fact they should be listening to the converse,
            which does logically follow.

            The assertion is: IF you want an agile project to succeed, THEN you
            must have a (some) competent and experienced person(s) on your team.

            The converse (which follows) is: IF you don't have any competent and
            experienced people on your team, THEN you won't get the agile project
            to succeed.

            This is quite likely true. On the other hand, if you don't have any
            competent and experienced people on your team, then you won't get
            [fill in the blank] method to work either.

            In other words, having a certain number of competent and experienced
            people on the project is a critical success factor for any method,
            and is not tied to agile. Larry is really saying: "The trouble with
            any method of software development is that you need competent and
            experienced people to make them work." --- which while true is pretty
            much a vaccuous statement.

            The trouble comes with people hearing the inverse of his statement,
            which doesn't follow:
            IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't need competent and
            experienced people.
            Which neither follows logically, nor is true. But since it
            isn't actually spoken out loud, people don't notice, so they just nod
            their heads and leave the room mumbling, "The problem with agile
            methods is you need competent and experienced people to make them
            work", as though that sentence meant anything.

            There, that is the long form of the argument. So it ends up being a
            tautology that you need skilled people to make things work well.

            The other thing you should notice in the original posting is that I
            was responding to Anita's question, which she asked as a consequence
            to Larry's sentence: "Can agile methods work effectively with
            underskilled practitioners or are they an elite development
            methodology?"

            My response was the short form of that long argument, with the tail
            question, can, indeed, any method work with underskilled
            practitioners?

            The purpose of all this is, in fact, to take the tautology out of the
            question and get the questions back onto useful territory.

            Sorry for the long posting,
            Alistair
          • Hugh Beyer
            ... wrote: AC:
            Message 5 of 23 , May 4, 2005

               

              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com , "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
              wrote:
              AC:<<I'll posit a slightly extreme position in this post, mostly for
              the sake of discussion, that if you are finding that people's self
              reported goals are unreliable, then you had a lousy Facilitator and
              the requirements gathering people had wax in their ears.
                 The opposite statement of the above is that with good
              facilitation, and if the requirements gathering people are alert,
              there are lots of clues spoken out loud in every meeting that tell
              you what's going on at the clam level --- Mind, I recognize that this
              is doing the clam-up work real-time within the group discussion and
              while driving home, but still I claim the information is on the table.
              >>

              > So just to clarify what the points of disagreement are, you are
              agreeing
              > that the analysis has to be clam-up, just disagreeing on what
              technique is
              > necessary for doing that analysis?

              egad, I don't see how you drew that conclusion! I posited one
              position and its opposite, the latter with two 'if' statements in it.
              How does that get interpreted as agreement that analysis "has to be"
              clam-up?

              Quite the non-opposite. I can't imagine that analysis "has to be"
              clam up (or top-down). I can imagine that clam-level details show
              themselves to be useful.

               

              Sorry. I thought your paragraph starting “The opposite statement…”  was stating your own point of view—that the clam-level details would still be available in a facilitated requirements gathering meeting.

               

              > I'd argue in fact that any user-centered
              > design process must be clam-up or it's not UCD. After all, if
              you're not
              > starting with individual users' work, you're not starting with
              users, you're
              > starting with some abstraction.

              I'll let someone else take issue with assertion --- since I'm not a
              UCD person, I don't personally care whether it carries the UCD tag or
              not. I'm only asking whether one gets a good result, and if so, am
              quite fine if all the UCD people in the world break out in hives from
              the manner in which that good result is achieved.

               

              And this isn’t a UCD list, and the “what is UCD” question is flame war bait anyway, so I’m willing to let it pass. This was simply a perspective I hadn’t thought about before.



              Jeff's question is essentially, can one get a good result middle-up-
              down-with-some-clam-stuff-showing-up-along-the-way (my way), or
              bottom-up (the UCD way), or both? And does it actually matter which
              path is followed, since it seems both seem sensitive to the quality
              of the person doing the work?

              I'm starting to think the quality of the person trumps the method.

              Certainly a good person with a poor process will probably produce a better result than a poor person with a good process every time.

               

                          Hugh



            • Jon Kern
              not to dis clams... i think a scallop-based method might be a better approach.... don t they have up to 100 eyes? -- jon ... wrote: AC:
              Message 6 of 23 , May 4, 2005
                not to dis clams... i think a "scallop-based" method  might be a better approach.... don't they have up to 100 eyes?
                -- jon
                
                


                aacockburn said the following on 5/4/2005 5:05 PM:
                --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
                wrote:
                AC:<<I'll posit a slightly extreme position in this post, mostly for
                the sake of discussion, that if you are finding that people's self
                reported goals are unreliable, then you had a lousy Facilitator and
                the requirements gathering people had wax in their ears.
                   The opposite statement of the above is that with good
                facilitation, and if the requirements gathering people are alert,
                there are lots of clues spoken out loud in every meeting that tell
                you what's going on at the clam level --- Mind, I recognize that this
                is doing the clam-up work real-time within the group discussion and
                while driving home, but still I claim the information is on the table.
                >>

                > So just to clarify what the points of disagreement are, you are
                agreeing
                > that the analysis has to be clam-up, just disagreeing on what
                technique is
                > necessary for doing that analysis?

                egad, I don't see how you drew that conclusion! I posited one
                position and its opposite, the latter with two 'if' statements in it.
                How does that get interpreted as agreement that analysis "has to be"
                clam-up?

                Quite the non-opposite. I can't imagine that analysis "has to be"
                clam up (or top-down). I can imagine that clam-level details show
                themselves to be useful.



                > I'd argue in fact that any user-centered
                > design process must be clam-up or it's not UCD. After all, if
                you're not
                > starting with individual users' work, you're not starting with
                users, you're
                > starting with some abstraction.

                I'll let someone else take issue with assertion --- since I'm not a
                UCD person, I don't personally care whether it carries the UCD tag or
                not. I'm only asking whether one gets a good result, and if so, am
                quite fine if all the UCD people in the world break out in hives from
                the manner in which that good result is achieved.

                Jeff's question is essentially, can one get a good result middle-up-
                down-with-some-clam-stuff-showing-up-along-the-way (my way), or
                bottom-up (the UCD way), or both? And does it actually matter which
                path is followed, since it seems both seem sensitive to the quality
                of the person doing the work?

                I'm starting to think the quality of the person trumps the method.






              • Jon Kern
                i think in some sense, agile methods are paired with requiring competent, top-notch people because 1) It is easy to follow a rigorous, multi-step process like
                Message 7 of 23 , May 4, 2005
                  i think in some sense, agile methods are paired with requiring competent, top-notch people because

                  1) It is easy to follow a rigorous, multi-step process like an automaton, churning out documents at each step, not worrying if it is helping get to the end goal or not. Hence, Larry Constantine's statement is true:
                      IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't
                    need competent and experienced people.
                  People can hide incompetence behind voluminous process. It is also found in droves in the whole Mgt By Objectives (MBO) bull-crap.

                  In these sorts of organizations/teams/processes, it is easy to mistake activity for progress.

                  2) It is harder to do agile properly because it takes wisdom and experience to make proper (apparent) guesses about what is "enough" It takes guts to demand frequent, tangible, working results to show application feature progress (or lack thereof).

                  Conversely, it is easy to abuse, for example, XP with incompetent execution.

                  People, process, tools. Good people are all you need. In a process vacuum, they will invent process. Even if all vendors were vaporized, good people will develop tools.

                  -- jon
                  
                  


                  aacockburn said the following on 5/4/2005 5:28 PM:
                  p.s. nice note on the examples, Hugh, thanks


                  --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
                  wrote:
                  > Very true, but it's possible to take the argument too far. A
                  sawmill, table
                  > saw, and jigsaw can all injure you but they vary greatly in the
                  amount of
                  > damage they're likely to do and the speed at which they'll do it.
                  >

                  Once again it looks like you trimmed too much out of my post and lost
                  the context in constructing a response. Here are all three
                  paragraphs:
                  <<--- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Anita Salem" <asalem@s...>
                  wrote:
                  > many facilitators I see are not well versed in interviewing
                  > techniques.
                  > So my question is, how do we address the reality of underskilled
                  > practitioners? Are we overly optimistic that anyone can be a "good"
                  > facilitator? Interviewing is a specialized skill and one my
                  students have a
                  > very difficult time with. I can't remember where I heard it
                  exactly (one of
                  > the sessions from the "In Use" conference I think ) where it was
                  proposed
                  > that in order for agile methods to be effective, the team members
                  need to be
                  > highly skilled and experienced. Can agile methods work effectively
                  with
                  > underskilled practitioners or are they an elite development
                  methodology?
                  > Anita

                  AC:<<Yes, Larry Constantine likes to advertise that agile methods
                  won't
                  work with underskilled practitioners, but frankly, no technique works
                  with underskilled practitioners. I don't think any of us here would
                  assert that UCD produces fine systems with slapdash, undermotivated,
                  hasty, untrained practioners --- or that ditto practioners would
                  produce good systems when working in a waterfall fashion; or that
                  ditto practitioners would produce good systems when working in an
                  agile fashion.
                     In fact it's pretty much a tautology that weak practioners produce
                  weak outcomes, regardless of the process; and any successful project
                  builds its success on the competent and experienced people present.
                  There is no distinction available here for agile / waterfall / UCD /
                  bottom-up / top-down etc.
                  >>


                  The long form of the deduction, which I was hoping I wouldn't have to
                  try to recall and type in (hence the short form phrase "tautology")
                  goes like this:

                  Larry stands on stage and says, "The trouble with agile methods is
                  that you need competent and experienced people to make them work."
                  People nod their heads as though they understand, because the human
                  brain seems wired to switch to the inverse, which doesn't logically
                  follow ... when in fact they should be listening to the converse,
                  which does logically follow.

                  The assertion is: IF you want an agile project to succeed, THEN you
                  must have a (some) competent and experienced person(s) on your team.

                  The converse (which follows) is: IF you don't have any competent and
                  experienced people on your team, THEN you won't get the agile project
                  to succeed.

                  This is quite likely true. On the other hand, if you don't have any
                  competent and experienced people on your team, then you won't get
                  [fill in the blank] method to work either.

                  In other words, having a certain number of competent and experienced
                  people on the project is a critical success factor for any method,
                  and is not tied to agile.  Larry is really saying: "The trouble with
                  any method of software development is that you need competent and
                  experienced people to make them work." --- which while true is pretty
                  much a vaccuous statement.

                  The trouble comes with people hearing the inverse of his statement,
                  which doesn't follow:
                  IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't need competent and
                  experienced people.
                  Which neither follows logically, nor is true. But since it
                  isn't actually spoken out loud, people don't notice, so they just nod
                  their heads and leave the room mumbling, "The problem with agile
                  methods is you need competent and experienced people to make them
                  work", as though that sentence meant anything.

                  There, that is the long form of the argument. So it ends up being a
                  tautology that you need skilled people to make things work well.

                  The other thing you should notice in the original posting is that I
                  was responding to Anita's question, which she asked as a consequence
                  to Larry's sentence: "Can agile methods work effectively with
                  underskilled practitioners or are they an elite development
                  methodology?"

                  My response was the short form of that long argument, with the tail
                  question, can, indeed, any method work with underskilled
                  practitioners?

                  The purpose of all this is, in fact, to take the tautology out of the
                  question and get the questions back onto useful territory.

                  Sorry for the long posting,
                  Alistair




                • Ron Jeffries
                  ... When talking about optimizing code, some wise person once said If it doesn t have to work, I can make it as fast as you want. The two ideas above remind
                  Message 8 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                    On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 11:03:39 PM, Jon Kern wrote:

                    > i think in some sense, agile methods are paired with requiring competent, top-notch people
                    > because

                    > 1) It is easy to follow a rigorous, multi-step process like an automaton, churning out
                    > documents at each step, not worrying if it is helping get to
                    > the end goal or not. Hence, Larry
                    > Constantine's statement is true:
                    >     IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't
                    >   need competent and experienced people.
                    > People can hide incompetence behind voluminous process. It is
                    > also found in droves in the whole
                    > Mgt By Objectives (MBO) bull-crap.

                    > In these sorts of organizations/teams/processes, it is easy to mistake activity for progress.

                    > 2) It is harder to do agile properly because it takes wisdom and experience to make proper
                    > (apparent) guesses about what is "enough" It takes guts to
                    > demand frequent, tangible, working
                    > results to show application feature progress (or lack thereof).

                    When talking about optimizing code, some wise person once said "If
                    it doesn't have to work, I can make it as fast as you want."

                    The two ideas above remind me of that. What Larry Constantine
                    /should/ have said is

                    if you don't use an agile method
                    AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE
                    then you don't need competent and experienced people.

                    Heavy processes may hide incompetence, but they do not correct it.
                    In the end, with incompetent people, the software won't show up on
                    time, on budget, fit for purpose.

                    Ron Jeffries
                    www.XProgramming.com
                    Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future. -- Niels Bohr
                  • Jon Kern
                    right on! a possible corollary to AND YOU DON T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE : Since we re going to fail at building this software anyway, we may as well
                    Message 9 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                      right on!

                      a possible corollary to "AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE":
                          "Since we're going to fail at building this software anyway,
                          we may as well outsource it and fail more cheaply"

                      -- jon
                      
                      


                      Ron Jeffries said the following on 5/5/2005 5:29 AM:
                      On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 11:03:39 PM, Jon Kern wrote:

                      >  i think in some sense, agile methods are paired with requiring competent, top-notch people
                      > because

                      >  1) It is easy to follow a rigorous, multi-step process like an automaton, churning out
                      > documents at each step, not worrying if it is helping get to
                      > the end goal or not. Hence, Larry
                      > Constantine's statement is true:
                      >       IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't
                      >    need competent and experienced people.
                      > People can hide incompetence behind voluminous process. It is
                      > also found in droves in the whole
                      > Mgt By Objectives (MBO) bull-crap.

                      >  In these sorts of organizations/teams/processes, it is easy to mistake activity for progress.

                      >  2) It is harder to do agile properly because it takes wisdom and experience to make proper
                      > (apparent) guesses about what is "enough" It takes guts to
                      > demand frequent, tangible, working
                      > results to show application feature progress (or lack thereof).

                      When talking about optimizing code, some wise person once said "If
                      it doesn't have to work, I can make it as fast as you want."

                      The two ideas above remind me of that. What Larry Constantine
                      /should/ have said is

                        if you don't use an agile method
                        AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE
                        then you don't need competent and experienced people.

                      Heavy processes may hide incompetence, but they do not correct it.
                      In the end, with incompetent people, the software won't show up on
                      time, on budget, fit for purpose.

                      Ron Jeffries
                      www.XProgramming.com
                      Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future. -- Niels Bohr
                    • Colette Buscarini Wyman
                      - I certainly would agree with Jon for his words describes truly my experience. Agile can be quite a successful approach when the team is very competent. This
                      Message 10 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                        - I certainly would agree with Jon for his words describes truly my experience.  Agile can be quite a successful approach when the team is very competent. This approach would require each member of a team to be creative (thinking outside of the box), experienced and opened/prepared to handle any situation. Additionally, there is another important factor that MUST be present.  It is the ability to be part of the team quickly and establish a strong bond/communication between each member rapidly.  
                        Colette :-)
                        ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        "i think in some sense, agile methods are paired with requiring competent, top-notch people because

                        1) It is easy to follow a rigorous, multi-step process like an automaton, churning out documents at each step, not worrying if it is helping get to the end goal or not. Hence, Larry Constantine's statement is true:
                            IF you don't use an agile method, THEN you don't
                          need competent and experienced people.
                        People can hide incompetence behind voluminous process. It is also found in droves in the whole Mgt By Objectives (MBO) bull-crap.

                        In these sorts of organizations/teams/processes, it is easy to mistake activity for progress.

                        2) It is harder to do agile properly because it takes wisdom and experience to make proper (apparent) guesses about what is "enough" It takes guts to demand frequent, tangible, working results to show application feature progress (or lack thereof).

                        Conversely, it is easy to abuse, for example, XP with incompetent execution.

                        People, process, tools. Good people are all you need. In a process vacuum, they will invent process. Even if all vendors were vaporized, good people will develop tools.

                        -- jon"
                         


                        Do you Yahoo!?
                        Yahoo! Small Business - Try our new resources site!
                      • aacockburn
                        I am really frustrated with Yahoo, because for the second time, yesterday, I wrote a long, exhausting post, and did it online just so that it would
                        Message 11 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                          <OT vent> I am really frustrated with Yahoo, because for the second
                          time, yesterday, I wrote a long, exhausting post, and did it online
                          just so that it would get posted promptly, and it got lost. Now I'm
                          afraid to write long detailed postings online here. arghhhhh! </OT
                          vent>

                          The post I wrote goes through the logic showing that according to
                          basic logic, Larry's saying really means: "If you want software to
                          come out, you need competent and experienced people, and that is
                          independent of what method you use." ... which, if he'd really said,
                          (a) wouldn't cast any aspersions on agile, and (b) would immediately
                          shift the conversation to the more meaningful and fruitful topics of
                          how do I tell if someone is that, and how do we hire and retain those
                          people.

                          (Short of the long append: There is a thing called a "cognitive
                          illusion", and the human brain immediately jumps to the inverse of a
                          statement, not the converse. So when Larry says, IF you want to
                          succeed
                          using agile THEN you need C&E people, the brain leaps to the false
                          consequence: IF you want to succeed and don't do agile THEN you don't
                          need C&E people, when it should really leap to: IF you don't have C&E
                          people THEN agile won't give you success (which leads right into
                          Ron's
                          statement below.))

                          So I'll copy this posting into my copy/paste buffer, and try sending
                          it
                          into the bowels of Yahoo.
                          Alistair

                          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries
                          <ronjeffries@X...>
                          wrote:

                          > The two ideas above remind me of that. What Larry Constantine
                          > said is
                          >
                          > if you don't use an agile method
                          > AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE
                          > then you don't need competent and experienced people.
                          >
                          > Heavy processes may hide incompetence, but they do not correct it.
                        • aacockburn
                          It just dawned on me why I wouldn t have noticed or cared about the first example you gave, Hugh --- I show up to write use cases, and we need to write a use
                          Message 12 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                            It just dawned on me why I wouldn't have noticed or cared about the
                            first example you gave, Hugh --- I show up to write use cases, and we
                            need to write a use case for any system function whether it is used
                            hourly or once a blue moon. This is a crucial difference
                            in "requirements gathering" (what exactly should the system do)
                            and "envisioning" and "usability" (how and how much does it improve
                            the life of the user/organization).

                            In envisioning and usability, frequency and the related ROI matter
                            hugely. In writing a functional spec, we just need to know that it
                            gets done ever. Thus, if users tell me this use case is the 60% item,
                            I'll make a note of that for other people on the project to worry
                            about, and collect the use case. If they tell me this use case is
                            just to handle the odd-ball situation, I'll make a note of that for
                            other people on the project to worry about, and collect the use
                            case. My goal is to capture /all/ and not miss one. Your goal is to
                            identify the ROI factor.


                            The second case below is different. That falls into
                            my "capture /all/" bucket, and so I am all ears listening and
                            questioning, looking for all the infrequent, oddball, not-officially-
                            supported pathways. That's where I get a clam-level tipoff... and at
                            that point I head straight for the surface and above, asking them
                            what is on their minds, why they would be doing that --- I don't try
                            to deduce what is on their minds from the clam-level data - I simply
                            ask them. And my experience here (without having any other reference
                            point) is that they DO report reliably in this situation. ...

                            Consider, if you will the second case you report on: "we saw people
                            doing something called "roll transfers"-tossing a stack of wafers
                            from one carrier to another without using the machine that was
                            especially designed for the purpose-in violation of procedure. We
                            might, with good facilitation have discovered that people break the
                            rules this way. We would not, I think, have understood why people
                            risk their jobs (or at least their performance appraisals) to do this
                            kind of transfer when they don't have to. "

                            So I'll offer that the reverse is true of what you just wrote: that
                            using facilitatin it is hard to DETECT that situation - role playing
                            and observation are helpful here - but having detected it, we can
                            UNDERSTAND the 'why' using facilitation.

                            Here's my matching example... we're talking about giving medications
                            in a hospital using a new barcode reader gadget. We're showing some
                            draft use cases to a team that had done a beta test with some hand-
                            held / bar code reader device for a month. We're talking about
                            scanning the meds at the bed side, and one of the nurses says, "Do we
                            have to be at the bedside? I used to carry a bar code of patient in
                            my pocket and scan everything in the prep room..." We all got stuck
                            at that moment, because it was clear that she was circumventing
                            something fundamental in the way that system had been set up (to be
                            done only at the patient bedside). After some hemming and hawing in
                            the room, we asked her, "Why would you be doing that? If we're going
                            to design a new system, it should support what you're trying to do,
                            so what were you trying to do?" And she said, "It's to save face in
                            front of the patient - I don't want to get to the bed and find I have
                            the wrong dose or something." After which, the other nurses agreed to
                            this.

                            What was serendipidous was her mentioning it. What wasn't
                            serendipidous was her being able to say why she was doing it. I don't
                            think we needed weeks of observation and note taking to deduce this;
                            it was enough just to ask her.

                            We have since written a use case called "Optionally pre-check the
                            meds", and are finding it popular among the nursing staff in the
                            various hospitals once they read and are reminded what it is for
                            (that there is no actual med administration going on, it is only
                            for "peace of mind"). And it has triggered in their minds various
                            situations that matter to us about where they might be standing with
                            this that or the other medication needing this that or the other bit
                            of procedure, so that we can write the requirements to support ALL
                            the places and behaviors they will need (however rare), while
                            prohibiting the specific ones the law and the hospital prohibits.

                            Reminder: we were lucky in this, because we got to talk to a team
                            that had used a scanner for a month, so we had their memories to work
                            with. I don't think we would have discovered this 'optionally
                            recheck' use case without those memories. The people who originally
                            designed that scanner system didn't have that luxury.

                            Thus I motivate the need for clam-level details, and that these are
                            hard to come by in facilitated sessions (ergo, the facilitator has to
                            deliberately work out ways to get clam-level stuff to pop out).

                            However, I argue that facilitation works fine for discovering the
                            Why, and that self-reporting is quite reliable here.

                            Alistair




                            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
                            wrote:
                            > On practically the first project we worked on as a business, the
                            user
                            > population consisted of system managers, who uniformly reported
                            that 60-70%
                            > of their work was focused on diagnosis and troubleshooting of
                            failing
                            > systems. CI field interviews revealed that maybe 10-20% of their
                            work was
                            > diagnosis and troubleshooting. Most of their time was spent on
                            routine
                            > maintenance tasks. We've found this is typical-users can't tell you
                            how they
                            > allot their time really-they put too much emphasis on what is
                            the "real"
                            > job, the interesting, valuable, knowledge work, and overlook the
                            time spent
                            > on "unimportant" parts of the job.
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > On another project, we were studying chip fabrication. We were told
                            how
                            > rigid all their requirements were for handling the wafers and how
                            carefully
                            > they were followed. But when we observed, we saw people doing
                            something
                            > called "roll transfers"-tossing a stack of wafers from one carrier
                            to
                            > another without using the machine that was especially designed for
                            the
                            > purpose-in violation of procedure. We might, with good facilitation
                            have
                            > discovered that people break the rules this way. We would not, I
                            think, have
                            > understood why people risk their jobs (or at least their performance
                            > appraisals) to do this kind of transfer when they don't have to.
                            >
                            >
                          • aacockburn
                            I read The world is flat (I give it a C-, worth a quick scan), and thought, along these lines, that what we are saying is, We don t know how to manage a
                            Message 13 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                              I read "The world is flat" (I give it a C-, worth a quick scan), and
                              thought, along these lines, that what we are saying is, "We don't know
                              how to manage a project over here. Perhaps if we go sufficiently far
                              away, the people over there know how to do it (answer: they don't). And
                              if they don't, then at least the mess is over there compared to over
                              here, and the mess is cheaper."

                              Of course, I'm interested in learning how to manage a project /over
                              here/ (for any 'here')

                              AListair


                              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kern <jonkern@c...> wrote:
                              > a possible corollary to "AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE":
                              "Since we're going to fail at building this software anyway,
                              we may as well outsource it and fail more cheaply"
                            • Jeff Patton
                              ... show up in ... painter ... then an ... whole ... the role ... giraffe level, ... Oddly, it s metaphors like this one I see used often that suggests moving
                              Message 14 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                                --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Hugh Beyer" <beyer@i...>
                                wrote:
                                > It's an important distinction, and I'd be surprised if it didn't
                                show up in
                                > some form or other. We talk about developing a design the way a
                                painter
                                > develops an oil painting-rather than working on the hand in detail,
                                then an
                                > eye, then the other hand, then an ear, the painter sketches in the
                                whole
                                > painting in rough-gets all the parts in right relationship to each
                                > other-then goes in and fills in the detail. In our process, this is
                                the role
                                > of visioning-to sketch the overall high-level vision (kite to
                                giraffe level,
                                > depending on the project) which can then be refined in detail.

                                Oddly, it's metaphors like this one I see used often that suggests
                                moving one direction - top down - or more abstract to more detailed.
                                If I leverage the oil painting metaphor, I think I'm hearing that in
                                practice you might do an underpainting, rough things in, then
                                actually zoom to paint an eye, or a hand, then change your mind and
                                zoom back out to an abstract level, and adjuste the underpainting,
                                then zoom back in and change the detailed hand to a foot. Does that
                                make sense? So, I guess that's what I'm asserting - books that
                                describe what people should do tend to imply design works in one
                                direction - but in practice, I'm not so sure.

                                thanks for posting Hugh!

                                -Jeff
                              • Jeff Patton
                                ... further. Master painters will work out the intricate details of a painting in a sketchbook. (XPers call this a spike solution.) Once they have figured
                                Message 15 of 23 , May 5, 2005
                                  --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Rob Keefer <rbkeefer@y...>
                                  wrote:
                                  > I'd like to take Hugh's analogy to the painter a step
                                  further. 'Master' painters will work out the intricate details of a
                                  painting in a sketchbook. (XPers call this a spike solution.) Once
                                  they have figured out the detail, it is then applied to the main
                                  composition.
                                  >

                                  Yeah - that's what I mean. I believe that in practice I see a fair
                                  bit of elaboration and playing with details, then zooming back out to
                                  abstract.

                                  Ironically Hugh gave an example in another post of support people
                                  reporting they spend a large percentage of their time on
                                  troubleshooting when in actuality his group had observed otherwise.
                                  The implication is that people aren't good at self reporting. Is it
                                  possible that when we ask designers what they're doing and they give
                                  this painting metaphor that they're not self reporting accurately? ;-)

                                  Glad you posted that Rob.

                                  -Jeff
                                • Jon Kern
                                  i always say... if you have convinced yourself that you can t get it done locally, what in the heck are you thinking that 12 time zones away is going to be
                                  Message 16 of 23 , May 6, 2005
                                    i always say...
                                        "if you have convinced yourself that you can't get it done locally, what in the heck are you thinking that 12 time zones away is going to be easier?"
                                    go figure...
                                    -- jon
                                    
                                    


                                    aacockburn said the following on 5/5/2005 11:38 AM:
                                    I read "The world is flat" (I give it a C-, worth a quick scan), and
                                    thought, along these lines, that what we are saying is, "We don't know
                                    how to manage a project over here. Perhaps if we go sufficiently far
                                    away, the people over there know how to do it (answer: they don't). And
                                    if they don't, then at least the mess is over there compared to over
                                    here, and the mess is cheaper."

                                    Of course, I'm interested in learning how to manage a project /over
                                    here/ (for any 'here')

                                    AListair


                                    --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kern <jonkern@c...> wrote:
                                    > a possible corollary to "AND YOU DON'T CARE IF YOU GET THE SOFTWARE":
                                        "Since we're going to fail at building this software anyway,
                                        we may as well outsource it and fail more cheaply"



                                  • aacockburn
                                    ... Yep. I ve interviewed and done the ethnographic stuff on developers, and one has to doublecheck most of what they claim. I even assume that when I describe
                                    Message 17 of 23 , May 6, 2005
                                      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
                                      wrote:
                                      > The implication is that people aren't good at self reporting. Is it
                                      > possible that when we ask designers what they're doing and they give
                                      > this painting metaphor that they're not self reporting accurately? ;-)

                                      Yep. I've interviewed and done the ethnographic stuff on developers,
                                      and one has to doublecheck most of what they claim. I even assume that
                                      when I describe how I do my ethnographic stuff that I'm lying some
                                      unknown percent of the time. Now don't you feel reassured? ;-))
                                    • Ron Jeffries
                                      ... I do. I wasn t sure you knew that. :) Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com I could be wrong. I frequently am.
                                      Message 18 of 23 , May 6, 2005
                                        On Friday, May 6, 2005, at 7:19:47 PM, aacockburn wrote:

                                        > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
                                        > wrote:
                                        >> The implication is that people aren't good at self reporting. Is it
                                        >> possible that when we ask designers what they're doing and they give
                                        >> this painting metaphor that they're not self reporting accurately? ;-)

                                        > Yep. I've interviewed and done the ethnographic stuff on developers,
                                        > and one has to doublecheck most of what they claim. I even assume that
                                        > when I describe how I do my ethnographic stuff that I'm lying some
                                        > unknown percent of the time. Now don't you feel reassured? ;-))

                                        I do. I wasn't sure you knew that. :)

                                        Ron Jeffries
                                        www.XProgramming.com
                                        I could be wrong. I frequently am.
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