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Re: [agile-usability] Re: Inmates

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  • Ron Jeffries
    Hello, Owen. On Sunday, November 4, 2007, at 1:57:14 AM, you ... No. However the technology for virtual collaboration has not improved greatly since, say,
    Message 1 of 176 , Nov 4, 2007
      Hello, Owen. On Sunday, November 4, 2007, at 1:57:14 AM, you

      > I'll concede (if you think I need to), that it's true that I've been
      > pointed to many sources that state that there were barriers that remain
      > insurmountable at a study was published. I don't believe any of these
      > studies had concluded that the concept of virtual collaboration was
      > flawed in and of itself.

      No. However the technology for virtual collaboration has not
      improved greatly since, say, 2000, when the UofM study was done.

      And I'm curious. Suppose something like the HP virtual collaboration
      stuff was available, providing a big screen on the wall across from
      your desk, so that you appeared to be sitting in a room with all the
      other programmers, and you see them and hear them and they could see
      and hear you. Would you want to work that way?

      I would guess not. Yet if virtual collaboration goes forward, it
      will surely go forward in the direction of looking like people are
      together. The more it seems real, I would guess, the less you will
      like it.

      > For example, although not prepared at this moment to pay to read it, I
      > like the choice of the word 'learned' in Olsen and Teasley's 1996
      > article "Groupware in the wild: lessons learned from a year of virtual
      > collocation". This word might have been chosen in preference to
      > "learnt". Without reading the article, I would assume that the authors
      > envisaged time moving remote collaboration from an idealistic
      > proposition to a pragmatic solution.

      I envisage technology adding length to the teleomeres of my DNA,
      resulting in a younger Ron Jeffries, retaining all my current wisdom
      and charm (if any), but returning me to the handsome and healthy
      state of my 20 year old body.

      But will technology do that before it's too late for me? Maybe I'd
      better start exercising more.

      > Anyway, I would here like to point out observed differences between us
      > based on how we like to interact:

      > I see that you like to interact with people to get to the essence of
      > their problems. On the other hand, I rather enjoy developing a solution
      > for problems that may have previously been identified. I like to think
      > and solve - you like to interact and engage.

      You draw this line far more strictly than is likely accurate.

      Many of us enjoy thinking and solving. Many of us actually used to
      prefer working alone, and many still like to work alone sometimes.
      At the end of a day of consulting, being with people all the time,
      what I want to do is to spin down with a meal, perhaps with one
      close friend or just a book, and then go to my hotel room and
      interact with a book or email. Same if I'm working with a collocated
      team: at the end of the day, I'm all socialed out and want to be
      alone to recharge.

      Why do I put myself in that situation? Because I can be more
      effective by so doing. Sometimes I'm moderately effective talking
      with people via email. Sometimes comes around much more often when
      I'm actually there, whether I'm programming or coaching.

      > You like the thought of collocation so you can get closer to your goal
      > of interacting in real time with people. I dislike collocation because I
      > fear (that amongst other things) it takes me further away from my goal
      > of interacting in real time with problems.

      "Fear is the mindkiller".

      More importantly perhaps, many of us like collocation, not because
      our goal is to be with people, but because our goal is to be
      involved in solving problems that are larger than we can solve on
      our own. We want to be involved in projects that are more important
      than our own, or that are led by people with grander visions or more
      funding than our own.

      To accomplish those things, we need to work with people. So, in
      order to have the experience of that kind of success, we work with

      We prefer it because of what it lets us accomplish, not because we
      are some kind of party animals.

      > I can accept some collocation at infrequent times because it does aid in
      > building a sense of common purpose, and assists in building a rapport
      > with colleagues. Can you accept that it might be better not to force
      > collocation on someone who likes to deal more directly with problems?
      > Might this produce better results for everyone?

      I haven't the slightest interest in forcing anyone to do anything. I
      am not interested in being forced, and it only seems fair not to
      force others. You should live as you choose to, not be forced to do

      However, given the choice between a competent person who would work
      together with the rest of the team, and a competent person who
      wanted to work alone, I would choose the one who would come together
      with the rest of us. I might even accept somewhat lower skill from
      that person, because they are more likely to learn, and more certain
      to have their flaws compensated for, as a collocated member of a

      What that means for you is that there are some people who will not
      consider you as an employee or colleague, because you are not
      available to work in the way that //they// prefer to work, and they
      happen to be in the position to collect together people who are
      willing to work in their preferred way. Golden rule, you might say.

      Therefore what that means for you is that, in some sense, the space
      of job positions before you is limited compared, say, to someone who
      is willing and able to work either way. That, in turn, means that to
      have equal opportunity, your skills need to be higher than other
      people's, probably not just in programming and problem solving, but
      also in written communication, and probably in phone communication
      as well.

      There are so many opportunities out in the world that the smaller
      job market may never affect you at all. Your skills may be so high
      as to make employers consider you even though they would prefer
      collocated people. You may prefer solitary work enough to accept
      less pay in order to work the way you want to work. All those things
      are just fine to me: I'm happy to have people to be happy, and I try
      to surround myself with people who'll be happy with me.

      So if I were to advise, I'd advise you to live as you want to live,
      but I'd also advise you to try to understand reality as it is. And
      right now at least, reality seems to be saying that together is
      better than not together, for a wide range of activities.

      I'd respectfully suggest that rather than rail against that aspect
      of the world, you would do well to find situations where
      togetherness is not desired, and work to fit yourself into them.
      You're not likely to convince collocation-oriented people not to be
      that way, because whether it is a preference as strong as yours, or
      merely based on observation of what works, the collocation crowd is
      not going to give it up any time soon.

      Ron Jeffries
      To be on the wire is life. The rest is waiting. --Karl Wallenda
    • 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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