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Re: [agile-usability] Re: Inmates

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  • William Pietri
    Hi, Owen. It s clear that you feel strongly about this. Personally, I would love for virtual work to be just as effective as collocation. Currently, I believe
    Message 1 of 176 , Oct 31, 2007
      Hi, Owen. It's clear that you feel strongly about this.

      Personally, I would love for virtual work to be just as effective as
      collocation. Currently, I believe the technology isn't there, and won't
      be for a decade at least. That makes me sad, as a couple of my teams are
      not collocated, and I've love for them to be as productive as my
      collocated ones. But for now they aren't, and not for lack of smarts or
      lack of trying.

      Until the technology catches up (and there's some exciting progress
      under the "telepresence" label), I'll continue to recommend collocation
      for software teams who need maximum productivity, agility, or
      responsiveness. For people who value other things more highly, a
      dispersed team can be a reasonable approach.


      Owen Thomas wrote:
      > Hi William.
      > Thanks for having your say. I apologise for not replying immediately.
      > Many times I have read replies to my messages before, and my mind has
      > shot off into a thousand points of view. I have had to take a little
      > while to settle myself down. See my counter-points in situ below.
      > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, William Pietri <william@...>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > > Hi, Owen. I'm all for tangents. Thanks for joining in.
      > >
      > > Owen Thomas wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Can you expand on your definition of "real human contact"?
      > Would... for
      > > > the sake of not being the subject of pillory or taboo... you entertain
      > > > the notion of human contact without collocation?
      > > >
      > >
      > > Sure. Let's consider that archetypal human relationship, romance.
      > Hmmm... I mean no disrespect, but that's a bit of a stretch for me to
      > compare. A necessary component in a romantic relationship *is*
      > physical contact... for me at least. I actually don't subscribe to the
      > notion that establishing a similar (even though lesser) degree of
      > physical contact with my co-workers is going to have any significant
      > effect on my productivity. In fact, because I tend not to be as social
      > as most, I put that sustained social interaction actually demotivates me.
      > I don't work to be romantic with people amongst which, for the sake of
      > having a disposable income, I must be placed; I work to get a job
      > done, and to receive consideration for that - a consideration that
      > unfortunately can feel restricted by the perception by others
      > that collocation is necessary.
      > > * You can't build a team through one-way media, like specs, although
      > > people can fool themselves into thinking it's working.
      > I'd agree with you. I've worked in an authoritarian workplace. I spent
      > six years travelling four daily hours to one. Instruction followed
      > downward. It was not only oppressive, it was often making ill-informed
      > decisions based on hunches from a management that was too busy giving
      > instructions to receive advice.
      > To your argument: program specs are a nice way to formalise something,
      > but they don't change. Specs often exhibit various degrees of internal
      > and external contradiction. Yea, waterfall is silly.
      > > * It's possible to do it through two-way media, and bandwidth and
      > > response time both make a big difference.
      > A current (though lessening) limiting factor to be true.
      > > * It's much more likely to work if the relationship is established
      > > in person first.
      > > * It helps to meet regularly to refresh that bond.
      > I agree with you here. Initial, and planned get togethers work very
      > well for establishing a sense of commonality of purpose.
      > > * No matter how you do it, you will have work harder to keep the
      > > relationship up than you would if you were collocated.
      > > * It will never be as good as an in-person relationship, and it will
      > > be more likely to fail.
      > >
      > >
      > > I coach both dispersed teams and collocated ones. I believe that the
      > > collocated ones are much more effective. That's not to say the
      > dispersed
      > > ones are ineffective, but there's no question in my mind that they
      > could
      > > do a lot more if they were together more.
      > You play a sideways-glance at the thought of managing a remote team
      > through saying things like "That's not to say that <inset opposing
      > argument> is ineffective", then you scratch the idea from your head by
      > saying "... could do a lot more if <insert favourable argument>".
      > This appears as a fairly proven tactic I have seen others do in many
      > instances in my life, but it does little to shed meaningful light on
      > the subject to which this discourse is directed.
      > I would imagine that you, in being experienced in (what must surely
      > be) the art of "coaching", have come to value this way of giving your
      > argument more sway than the opposition's. However, does using such a
      > method actually advance the truth in either argument?
      > Due to the counter-productive nature of this sentiment, I will avoid
      > paying any further respect to it, or any further "argument's" raised
      > in the same vein, other than this: I agree that collocation definitely
      > has its place. There is no way that I will argue for its complete
      > banishment - its impossible. However, in this society, the office
      > block, the international air flight, the daily commute, the 40 hour
      > week (and the eight hour day), urban transit, the rush-hour,
      > grid-lock, the vacation, the power nap, urban consolidation, and so
      > many other negative social phenomena have, as their root cause, the
      > carcinogen of collocation.
      > Society now has this thing called ICT which the software industry is
      > in part responsible for initiating, and very much in the driving seat
      > in it's continued evolution. If the software industry is not going to
      > embrace their own creations, and the concepts of remote work, what
      > chance does the remainder of society have of escaping many of the
      > paradoxical behavioural phenomena it has experienced since the
      > industrial revolution?
      > Personally, I ask myself: why would I want to work in this industry if
      > I cannot become a member of a collaborative environment without having
      > to travel to an office block? I firmly assert that office blocks
      > (whether they are full of cubicals or war rooms) are nonsense. They
      > are the remnants of the factory floor, and society now has a means by
      > which it can rid itself of such remnants. Unfortunately, this
      > will only happen in a sustained manner when (or if) a critical mass of
      > similar mindedness is achieved.
      > I'm sure it will take a bit to break the comfortable ignorance of
      > habit. I'm sure it's going to happen soon, it's just convincing others
      > that it's possible while I have the chance to benefit appears to
      > be challenging.
      > > > Do you think that the type of teaming we engage in has any bearing on
      > > > the type of software we design? Do you think this has any positive
      > > > feedback consequences on the type of society in which we live and
      > work?
      > > >
      > > As to the first, I'm sure it could, although the main impact I see
      > isn't
      > > on the type of the software, but rather the quality and fit to market.
      > I'll interject here. Apologies for cutting you short, but you were
      > getting my point with the first sentence. If you agree with me on my
      > first question, your suggestion is to consider the marketplace. Can
      > you see the business opportunity in developing tools that
      > exploit behaviours of a market untroubled by collocation and all it's
      > associated social symptoms?
      > Do you think that markets would not exist if people didn't continue to
      > collocate to work, and hence, to live?
      > Great to hear from you,
      > Owen.
    • Scott Preece
      Hi, I think it s more about not squashing joy than about encouraging it. Most of us take a lot of pleasure in doing this software thing, and many look for
      Message 176 of 176 , Dec 1, 2007

        I think it's more about not squashing joy than about encouraging it. Most of us take a lot of pleasure in doing this software thing, and many look for jobs that let them extend that pleasure by advancing efforts that interest them in one way or another. I suspect there may be some really effective leaders who can actually build an additional sense of joy around project accomplishments in their teams, but I think that's stretching it and that much of the potential for joy of work is personal and internal. It's more about enabling and not disabling joy than about creating it.

        Organizations, managers, process designers, and everyone else involved have infinite opportunities to make life miserable, so not killing joy is clearly a good thing to encourage. I'm just not sure how to state this in the form of the Manifesto's values statements. We value Joy over what? Most of the obvious choices, like regimentation, professionalism, achievement, speed, order, are either things that organizations would stoutly deny encouraging (like regimentation) or are things aren't inherently anti-joy (like professionalism). Does any organization consciously promote misery in its staff?

        Maybe it's best to assume that valuing joy is part of valuing people?


        ----- Original Message ----

        From: Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...>

        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com

        Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2007 4:31:23 AM

        Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Joy in work [was: interminable]

        Hello, Brian. On Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 2:34:38 PM, you


        > In fact, I'd go further. I claim that an error of the original

        > manifesto was that it left some values out that, as it happens,

        > should have been explicit. One of those is that work should be

        > joyful. Back in the first half of this decade, people on teams used

        > to tell me, "This is the best project I've ever worked on!" I'm

        > unhappy that what I hear today is more "my job doesn't suck as much

        > as it used to". We've let joy in work slip away in our effort to

        > appeal to more people.

        This is a tough one, for sure. I have guided my work life in large

        part from a joy focus, or at least by noticing, sometimes later than

        I should, that joy was absent, and moving to a place in the currents

        where more joy comes floating by. I would hope that everyone can

        find joy in what they do, though it seems to me that many never do.

        Despite the truth of the notion, it seems unlikely to "sell" to

        business people. This means that it will be "good business" for

        Agilist business people to downplay this and other humanistic

        values, so as to appeal to "hard-nosed" business people.

        I think that what might work in that regard is to find, describe,

        ultimately "prove" that working in ways that give more joy also

        gives better business results. This means that the "ways" in

        question have to be things to do that are not so much like "follow

        your bliss" and a lot like "make sure your people take the time to

        write unit tests because your product will reach an acceptable level

        of quality faster." This would need to be true, of course, and in

        fact I think it is. Then it needs to turn out that having and taking

        the time to write the tests provides an increment of joy to the

        programmers, which certainly can be the case.

        In any case ... it just seems darned hard to address these things,

        and it really could get in the way of at least some people's

        business focus on selling Agile. I'm very interested and not very

        certain what ought to be done.

        Lead us ...

        Ron Jeffries

        www.XProgramming. com

        I know we always like to say it'll be easier to do it now than it

        will be to do it later. Not likely. I plan to be smarter later than

        I am now, so I think it'll be just as easy later, maybe even easier.

        Why pay now when we can pay later?

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