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Re: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods

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  • 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 1 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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      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 2 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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        - 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 3 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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          <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 4 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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            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 5 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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              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 6 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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                --- 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 7 of 23 , May 5, 2005
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                  --- 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 8 of 23 , May 6, 2005
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                    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 9 of 23 , May 6, 2005
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                      --- 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 10 of 23 , May 6, 2005
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                        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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