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Like Garlic for Vampires

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  • William Pietri
    A friend of mine who works at a large tech product company is doing some user context research in a hospital right now. Some of her office-bound colleagues
    Message 1 of 25 , May 29, 2006
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      A friend of mine who works at a large tech product company is doing some
      user context research in a hospital right now. Some of her office-bound
      colleagues prepared a plan where she'd just sit down with each of a set
      of nurses for a half-hour or so to interview them. Then they sent her
      out into the field.

      It turns out that this is a ridiculous plan. Why? Because when nurses
      are on shift, they're working, working, working. People need them all
      the time. And when their shift is done, it's done; they go home. If you
      want to talk to them, it has to be in the little bits of time they have
      at random throughout the day. You have to stick to them like a sweaty
      t-shirt.

      This made me realize how unproductive your typical office can be,
      especially at large companies. In many places, time vampires can feed at
      will; the environment doesn't convey that anything important is going on
      like it does at a hospital or in a factory. But on a good XP team, where
      the developers are all in a room, paired up and working vigorously,
      there's an atmosphere of activity. If you try to interrupt or pull a
      developer away, it causes an immediate and obvious reduction in
      productivity. It's like garlic for time vampires.

      Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to fend
      off productivity-sapping interruptions?


      William
    • Phlip
      ... Uh, so they never even watched ER? Its theme since the first episode is those guys are dangerously and absurdly over-worked... ... I noticed an opposite
      Message 2 of 25 , May 30, 2006
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        William Pietri wrote:

        > A friend of mine who works at a large tech product company is doing some
        > user context research in a hospital right now. Some of her office-bound
        > colleagues prepared a plan where she'd just sit down with each of a set
        > of nurses for a half-hour or so to interview them. Then they sent her
        > out into the field.

        Uh, so they never even watched ER? Its theme since the first episode
        is those guys are dangerously and absurdly over-worked...

        > Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to fend
        > off productivity-sapping interruptions?

        I noticed an opposite effect. When the interrupter arrives, who ever
        is momentarily free greets them, they ask a question, someone else
        answers it, and they engage whoever can help the best. Everyone else
        goes back to work.

        --
        Phlip
        http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
      • John Emery
        ... doing some ... office-bound ... a set ... to fend ... The shop I work at has this productivity-sapping interruptions issue. We have minimized this by: -
        Message 3 of 25 , May 30, 2006
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          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Phlip <phlip2005@...> wrote:
          >
          > William Pietri wrote:
          >
          > > A friend of mine who works at a large tech product company is
          doing some
          > > user context research in a hospital right now. Some of her
          office-bound
          > > colleagues prepared a plan where she'd just sit down with each of
          a set
          > > of nurses for a half-hour or so to interview them. Then they sent her
          > > out into the field.
          >
          > Uh, so they never even watched ER? Its theme since the first episode
          > is those guys are dangerously and absurdly over-worked...
          >
          > > Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks
          to fend
          > > off productivity-sapping interruptions?
          >
          > I noticed an opposite effect. When the interrupter arrives, who ever
          > is momentarily free greets them, they ask a question, someone else
          > answers it, and they engage whoever can help the best. Everyone else
          > goes back to work.
          >
          > --
          > Phlip
          > http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
          >

          The shop I work at has this productivity-sapping interruptions issue.

          We have minimized this by:

          - Hired a moderate level technical person to handle the majority of
          the interruptions that we were experiencing.

          - Designate one developer that can be interrupted. The developers are
          on a weekly rotation to keep the developers stress levels down. This
          developer never pairs when there is an "odd man" state in the bullpen.

          John E
        • Phlip
          ... I remember a thread somewhere from a programming team that also inexplicably did help-desk, IT, pulling cables, etc. It was a real party. So the fix is
          Message 4 of 25 , May 30, 2006
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            John Emery wrote:

            > The shop I work at has this productivity-sapping interruptions issue.
            >
            > We have minimized this by:
            >
            > - Hired a moderate level technical person to handle the majority of
            > the interruptions that we were experiencing.
            >
            > - Designate one developer that can be interrupted. The developers are
            > on a weekly rotation to keep the developers stress levels down. This
            > developer never pairs when there is an "odd man" state in the bullpen.

            I remember a thread somewhere from a programming team that also
            inexplicably did help-desk, IT, pulling cables, etc. It was a real
            party.

            So the fix is just like you say: Implement a _real_ IT help-desk
            system, with tickets, round-robin assignments, priorities, and a
            queue. Oh, and the programmers are already assigned one big ticket -
            write the program!

            --
            Phlip
            http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
          • Amir Kolsky
            I think that the major problem with the approach is that they don t understand the role of the nurses. In this context, the nurses are SME s (Subject Matter
            Message 5 of 25 , May 30, 2006
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              I think that the major problem with the approach is that they don't
              understand the role of the nurses. In this context, the nurses are SME's
              (Subject Matter Experts). I would be very weary of interviewing SMEs - even
              if you can get their attention you will end up getting too much information.
              What you should do is prepare specific questions and have them answers these
              questions. The answer to such question should take just a few minutes and
              you can easily capture it on paper. They can then go about their regular
              jobs and you can prepare your next question.

              This will also ensure that you will not end up asking the same question in
              different format too many times, which is bound to annoy them.

              Amir Kolsky
              XP& Software


              >-----Original Message-----
              >From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
              >[mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of William Pietri
              >Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:08 AM
              >To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
              >Subject: [XP] Like Garlic for Vampires
              >
              >
              >A friend of mine who works at a large tech product company is
              >doing some user context research in a hospital right now. Some
              >of her office-bound colleagues prepared a plan where she'd
              >just sit down with each of a set of nurses for a half-hour or
              >so to interview them. Then they sent her out into the field.
              >
              >It turns out that this is a ridiculous plan. Why? Because when
              >nurses are on shift, they're working, working, working. People
              >need them all the time. And when their shift is done, it's
              >done; they go home. If you want to talk to them, it has to be
              >in the little bits of time they have at random throughout the
              >day. You have to stick to them like a sweaty t-shirt.
              >
              >This made me realize how unproductive your typical office can
              >be, especially at large companies. In many places, time
              >vampires can feed at will; the environment doesn't convey that
              >anything important is going on like it does at a hospital or
              >in a factory. But on a good XP team, where the developers are
              >all in a room, paired up and working vigorously, there's an
              >atmosphere of activity. If you try to interrupt or pull a
              >developer away, it causes an immediate and obvious reduction
              >in productivity. It's like garlic for time vampires.
              >
              >Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific
              >tricks to fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?
              >
              >
              >William
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
              >
              >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
              >extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
              >
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              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • PaulOldfield1@aol.com
              (responding to William) ... 3 techniques from non-XP shops; they may adapt. 1/ (not tried but heard about) have a desk at least 40 feet from the team work
              Message 6 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                (responding to William)

                > Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to
                > fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?

                3 techniques from non-XP shops; they may adapt.

                1/ (not tried but heard about) have a desk at least 40 feet from the
                team work area. Anyone working there is trying not to be
                interrupted.

                2/ (again not tried but heard about) put a "Do not disturb until"
                notice on top of the console. 'Until' can't be more than 2 hours
                away & can't be changed once posted, so folk know when to
                come back. (doesn't seem to fit with 'osmotic communication'
                principles?)

                3/ (what I do) go and hover by the desk of the person you want
                to talk to. If they are readily receptive they will look up and
                engage. If they are doing something they don't want interrupted
                they will not immediately engage. Where this happens, if what
                I want isn't urgent, I'll jot a note on a post-it and leave it on their
                desk to pick up when they're ready. They can judge my assessment
                of urgency by how long I'm prepared to wait before writing out the
                post-it. You get to learn hand signals that can convey a wide
                variety of responses ("Two minutes"; "Come back in 5"; "Can't
                talk now"; "Join in, we'll get round to your topic but help us with
                this" etc.)

                HTH,
                Paul Oldfield



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Ron Jeffries
                ... Y know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing with interruptions instead of fending them off. Maybe we should build things that are
                Message 7 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                  On Wednesday, May 31, 2006, at 7:05:35 AM, PaulOldfield1@... wrote:

                  > (responding to William)
                  >
                  >> Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to
                  >> fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?
                  >
                  > 3 techniques from non-XP shops; they may adapt.
                  >
                  > 1/ (not tried but heard about) have a desk at least 40 feet from the
                  > team work area. Anyone working there is trying not to be
                  > interrupted.
                  >
                  > 2/ (again not tried but heard about) put a "Do not disturb until"
                  > notice on top of the console. 'Until' can't be more than 2 hours
                  > away & can't be changed once posted, so folk know when to
                  > come back. (doesn't seem to fit with 'osmotic communication'
                  > principles?)
                  >
                  > 3/ (what I do) go and hover by the desk of the person you want
                  > to talk to. If they are readily receptive they will look up and
                  > engage. If they are doing something they don't want interrupted
                  > they will not immediately engage. Where this happens, if what
                  > I want isn't urgent, I'll jot a note on a post-it and leave it on their
                  > desk to pick up when they're ready. They can judge my assessment
                  > of urgency by how long I'm prepared to wait before writing out the
                  > post-it. You get to learn hand signals that can convey a wide
                  > variety of responses ("Two minutes"; "Come back in 5"; "Can't
                  > talk now"; "Join in, we'll get round to your topic but help us with
                  > this" etc.)

                  Y'know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing
                  with interruptions instead of fending them off. Maybe we should
                  build things that are more solid than a house of cards that will
                  topple at the first breeze.

                  Ron Jeffries
                  www.XProgramming.com
                  Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.
                  (I am large, I contain multitudes.) --Walt Whitman
                • 2chulan@rogers.com
                  ... From: Ron Jeffries ... Y know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing with interruptions instead of
                  Message 8 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...>

                    > (responding to William)
                    >
                    >> Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to
                    >> fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?

                    Y'know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing
                    with interruptions instead of fending them off. Maybe we should
                    build things that are more solid than a house of cards that will
                    topple at the first breeze.
                    ----- Original Message ----


                    I believe there are studies, at least I recall articles, indcating that it takes a bit of time (10-20 minutes) to get into the groove/flow/rythm of a task. Any interruption breaks that mind set and it requires a similar amount of time to get back into it. So an interruption, no matter how small, costs you that 10-20 minutes.

                    However, in TDD maybe the point where you have complete a bit of code and are running the test(s) is a natural break where an interruption isn't as disruptive?

                    I remember an article about Zen,where the teacher told the students to practice awareness by saying "When you read the paper, read the paper. When you drink a coffee, drink the coffee". Seeming to indicate to not try to do more than one thing at a time. He was later found by a student reading a paper and drinking a coffee. The student challenged him on it and he said "When reading a paper and drinking coffee, read the paper and drink the coffee". Indicating that with pracitce one can become able to handle multiple/more complex tasks (my interpretation, YMMV)

                    So maybe the trick to handling interruptions is to practice handling them and learn what works for you.

                    Cheers
                    Chris
                  • William Pietri
                    ... Heh. When I wrote the original bit, I looks like I should have made something more explicit. I m a big fan of useful interruptions. What I like about XP in
                    Message 9 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                      Ron Jeffries wrote:
                      > Y'know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing
                      > with interruptions instead of fending them off. Maybe we should
                      > build things that are more solid than a house of cards that will
                      > topple at the first breeze.
                      >

                      Heh. When I wrote the original bit, I looks like I should have made
                      something more explicit. I'm a big fan of useful interruptions. What I
                      like about XP in this context is that developers who are busy are
                      obviously busy in a way that causes potential interrupters to wonder
                      whether the really need to stop the flow of things. Whereas somebody
                      just sitting solo at a desk seems much more interruptible.

                      Working in pairs and teams seems to filter out a lot of
                      check-out-this-funny-thing distractions. Or it least defers them until
                      people are taking a break, when they're more appropriate.

                      William
                    • Ron Jeffries
                      ... You may be thinking of the work of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote the book Flow and many related articles. Flow is an interesting state. As far
                      Message 10 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                        On Wednesday, May 31, 2006, at 8:57:05 AM, 2chulan@... wrote:

                        > I believe there are studies, at least I recall articles, indcating
                        > that it takes a bit of time (10-20 minutes) to get into the
                        > groove/flow/rythm of a task. Any interruption breaks that mind set
                        > and it requires a similar amount of time to get back into it. So
                        > an interruption, no matter how small, costs you that 10-20
                        > minutes.

                        You may be thinking of the work of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who
                        wrote the book "Flow" and many related articles.

                        Flow is an interesting state. As far as I know these kinds of things
                        have not been addressed in studies:

                        What happens when two people work together? Is it still flow, or
                        is it something else?

                        Is it possible to learn to drop right back into Flow? (I'd think
                        so ... it is certainly possible to learn to drop right back into a
                        meditative state.)

                        If one person of a pair is interrupted, can the other one just
                        spin him right back into the swing of things?

                        > However, in TDD maybe the point where you have complete a bit of
                        > code and are running the test(s) is a natural break where an
                        > interruption isn't as disruptive?

                        It might be. It might be that a single individual in flow isn't the
                        most powerful thing in programming. It might be that team
                        productivity strongly trumps individual. Etc., ...

                        > I remember an article about Zen,where the teacher told the
                        > students to practice awareness by saying "When you read the paper,
                        > read the paper. When you drink a coffee, drink the coffee".
                        > Seeming to indicate to not try to do more than one thing at a
                        > time. He was later found by a student reading a paper and drinking
                        > a coffee. The student challenged him on it and he said "When
                        > reading a paper and drinking coffee, read the paper and drink the
                        > coffee". Indicating that with pracitce one can become able to
                        > handle multiple/more complex tasks (my interpretation, YMMV)

                        Yes ...

                        > So maybe the trick to handling interruptions is to practice
                        > handling them and learn what works for you.

                        Indeed.

                        Ron Jeffries
                        www.XProgramming.com
                        Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
                        The important thing is to not stop questioning. --Albert Einstein
                      • Paul Oldfield
                        (responding to Ron) ... Agreed. If we need to fend them off, then something s not quite right. Paul.
                        Message 11 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                          (responding to Ron)

                          > Y'know, I wonder about this. Maybe we should be better at dealing
                          > with interruptions instead of fending them off. Maybe we should
                          > build things that are more solid than a house of cards that will
                          > topple at the first breeze.

                          Agreed. If we need to fend them off, then something's
                          not quite right.

                          Paul.
                        • Keith Ray
                          ... I think I ve experienced this. C. Keith Ray
                          Message 12 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                            > If one person of a pair is interrupted, can the other one just
                            > spin him right back into the swing of things?

                            I think I've experienced this.

                            C. Keith Ray
                          • Dan Bunea
                            From my experience, I see that people working in pairs, tend to be disturbed by the others a lot less. However there should be a very good balance between the
                            Message 13 of 25 , May 31, 2006
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                              From my experience, I see that people working in pairs, tend to be
                              disturbed by the others a lot less. However there should be a very good
                              balance between the quite time and osmotic communication (Alistair
                              Cockburn-Agile Software Development), as too many quite time tends to
                              disrupt the important information flow, ending rapidly in duplication and
                              other side effects, and too much communication, might end up with nothing
                              ever done, because people can't focus too much being disturbed all the
                              time.

                              Dan Bunea
                              http://danbunea.blogspot.com

                              On Wed, 31 May 2006 15:05:35 +0400, <PaulOldfield1@...> wrote:

                              > (responding to William)
                              >
                              >> Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to
                              >> fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?
                              > 3 techniques from non-XP shops; they may adapt.
                              > 1/ (not tried but heard about) have a desk at least 40 feet from the
                              > team work area. Anyone working there is trying not to be
                              > interrupted.
                              > 2/ (again not tried but heard about) put a "Do not disturb until"
                              > notice on top of the console. 'Until' can't be more than 2 hours
                              > away & can't be changed once posted, so folk know when to
                              > come back. (doesn't seem to fit with 'osmotic communication'
                              > principles?)
                              > 3/ (what I do) go and hover by the desk of the person you want
                              > to talk to. If they are readily receptive they will look up and
                              > engage. If they are doing something they don't want interrupted
                              > they will not immediately engage. Where this happens, if what
                              > I want isn't urgent, I'll jot a note on a post-it and leave it on their
                              > desk to pick up when they're ready. They can judge my assessment
                              > of urgency by how long I'm prepared to wait before writing out the
                              > post-it. You get to learn hand signals that can convey a wide
                              > variety of responses ("Two minutes"; "Come back in 5"; "Can't
                              > talk now"; "Join in, we'll get round to your topic but help us with
                              > this" etc.)
                              > HTH,
                              > Paul Oldfield
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
                              >
                              > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                              > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
                              >
                              > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
                              > Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >



                              --
                            • Dan Bunea
                              On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 13:09:06 +0400, Ron Jeffries ... a great answer, as always. I wonder why people tend to have too simple answers, for very complex problems:
                              Message 14 of 25 , Jun 1 1:28 AM
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                                On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 13:09:06 +0400, Ron Jeffries
                                <ronjeffries@...> wrote:

                                > Yes ... another thing that happens in "Flow" is that one may be
                                > concentrating well, but not being productive. We've all had that
                                > sensation of finally giving up on something we've been at for hours,
                                > and then realizing the problem before we get halfway home.
                                >
                                > Flow is good, but it's not everything.

                                a great answer, as always. I wonder why people tend to have too simple
                                answers, for very complex problems: "if I work/concentrate more, I will be
                                more productive" is one of these. Possibly, people see a problem: "I
                                didn't finish on time", find the cause: "because there was noise, and I
                                couldn't focus", then apply negation and think that they have found the
                                solution: "if I focus more I will be more productive". Unfortunately,
                                answers about such a complex problem as productivity and efficiency, are
                                complex themselves and cannot be simplified beyond a certain limit. After
                                all Einstein said that things thoud be made as simple as possible, but not
                                simpler.

                                --

                                Dan Bunea
                                http://danbunea.blogspot.com
                              • Ron Jeffries
                                ... Yes ... another thing that happens in Flow is that one may be concentrating well, but not being productive. We ve all had that sensation of finally
                                Message 15 of 25 , Jun 1 2:09 AM
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                                  On Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 2:16:01 AM, Dan Bunea wrote:

                                  > From my experience, I see that people working in pairs, tend to be
                                  > disturbed by the others a lot less. However there should be a very good
                                  > balance between the quite time and osmotic communication (Alistair
                                  > Cockburn-Agile Software Development), as too many quite time tends to
                                  > disrupt the important information flow, ending rapidly in duplication and
                                  > other side effects, and too much communication, might end up with nothing
                                  > ever done, because people can't focus too much being disturbed all the
                                  > time.

                                  Yes ... another thing that happens in "Flow" is that one may be
                                  concentrating well, but not being productive. We've all had that
                                  sensation of finally giving up on something we've been at for hours,
                                  and then realizing the problem before we get halfway home.

                                  Flow is good, but it's not everything.

                                  Ron Jeffries
                                  www.XProgramming.com
                                  Anyone can make the simple complicated.
                                  Creativity is making the complicated simple. -- Charles Mingus
                                • Chris Dollin
                                  ... At one point in my first job, I worked about 20 minutes cycle-ride from where we were living. Several problems had their solutions pop up on the last five
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Jun 1 2:23 AM
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                                    On Thursday 01 June 2006 10:09, Ron Jeffries wrote:

                                    > Yes ... another thing that happens in "Flow" is that one may be
                                    > concentrating well, but not being productive. We've all had that
                                    > sensation of finally giving up on something we've been at for hours,
                                    > and then realizing the problem before we get halfway home.

                                    At one point in my first job, I worked about 20 minutes cycle-ride from
                                    where we were living. Several problems had their solutions pop up
                                    on the last five minutes of the ride home, when I went off decent road
                                    onto bumpy earth tracks. I assume that the ideas needed shaking up,
                                    or something.

                                    I am older (and heavier) and no longer cycle home. Fortunately I work
                                    on the second floor [1] and bouncing down the stairs on the way to
                                    the car (or train) can work, as can a car CD player played VERY LOUD.

                                    [1] English units.

                                    --
                                    Chris "that's my excuse" Dollin
                                    "Who are you? What do you want?" /Babylon 5/
                                  • Philip Doherty
                                    I read Peopleware and decided to do an analysis on the telephone interruptions a while ago. If we could cut our interruptions in half, leaving only the useful
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Jun 1 2:25 AM
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                                      I read Peopleware and decided to do an analysis on the telephone interruptions a while ago. If we could cut our interruptions in half, leaving only the useful ones (believe me a lot of them were not useful) then it would save us £10,000 per employee per annum based on the time saved x daily rate.

                                      Of course there are assumptions in this but I think they are all pretty sensible.

                                      Just thought I'd throw some actual figures in.
                                    • Ron Jeffries
                                      ... Are you counting just time spent on the phone, times pay rate, in that, or also some time spent restarting the brain and such? £10,000 surprises me ...
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Jun 1 2:46 AM
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                                        On Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 5:25:16 AM, Philip Doherty wrote:

                                        > I read Peopleware and decided to do an analysis on the telephone
                                        > interruptions a while ago. If we could cut our interruptions in
                                        > half, leaving only the useful ones (believe me a lot of them were
                                        > not useful) then it would save us £10,000 per employee per annum
                                        > based on the time saved x daily rate.

                                        > Of course there are assumptions in this but I think they are all
                                        > pretty sensible.

                                        > Just thought I'd throw some actual figures in.

                                        Are you counting just time spent on the phone, times pay rate, in
                                        that, or also some time spent restarting the brain and such? £10,000
                                        surprises me ... what's the annual cost of an employee? People are
                                        wasting that much of their time on bad calls? Wow.

                                        I'd be interested in how calls were determined to be non-useful,
                                        whether they were useful to the other party in some way, whether
                                        they were things that needed handling but could have been buffered,
                                        whether they were calls that someone else did need to handle, and so
                                        on. Not that I don't believe the data -- I do. Just interested.

                                        Ron Jeffries
                                        www.XProgramming.com
                                        The main reason that testing at the end of a development cycle finds
                                        problems is not that problems were put in near the end, it is that
                                        testing was put off until then.
                                      • Philip Doherty
                                        I didn t even count the time spent on the interruption just the time taken to get back into flow. So, It was the number of interruptions multiplied by the
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Jun 1 3:03 AM
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                                          I didn't even count the time spent on the interruption just the time taken to get back into flow.

                                          So, It was the number of interruptions multiplied by the stated 15 mins to get back into flow which gives the time. I multiplied this by the charge out rate per day which is approx 3 times the salary per day.

                                          A lot of calls were only re-directing to someone else, i.e. complete waste of our time and the callers time. It was surprising how many times these calls happened. Of course some times the calls were useful and necessary so after looking at the detail recorded by each person on their interruption log I decided that around half the calls were unavoidable. So I calculated the figure on trying to reduce the interruptions to half.

                                          If you think you answer 4 calls a day during work you are immersed in then its 4 x 15 mins (Dimarco) that's an hour a day.

                                          356 days a year - 104 (weekends) - 35 (holidays) = 222 working days

                                          So one hour a day x 222 days = 222 hours

                                          222 * hourly rate = Cost

                                          Work out the percentage of calls you find to be not useful (in my case 50%) and that's how I came up with my figure of 10,000 per year. (we had more than 4 calls a day)

                                          1) The assumptions I made were that the person was in flow at the time of interruption. 2) The saved time would be spent on chargeable work.

                                          Phil



                                          -----Original Message-----
                                          From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ron Jeffries
                                          Sent: 01 June 2006 10:47
                                          To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
                                          Subject: Re: [XP] Re: Like Garlic for Vampires

                                          On Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 5:25:16 AM, Philip Doherty wrote:

                                          > I read Peopleware and decided to do an analysis on the telephone
                                          > interruptions a while ago. If we could cut our interruptions in
                                          > half, leaving only the useful ones (believe me a lot of them were
                                          > not useful) then it would save us £10,000 per employee per annum
                                          > based on the time saved x daily rate.

                                          > Of course there are assumptions in this but I think they are all
                                          > pretty sensible.

                                          > Just thought I'd throw some actual figures in.

                                          Are you counting just time spent on the phone, times pay rate, in
                                          that, or also some time spent restarting the brain and such? £10,000
                                          surprises me ... what's the annual cost of an employee? People are
                                          wasting that much of their time on bad calls? Wow.

                                          I'd be interested in how calls were determined to be non-useful,
                                          whether they were useful to the other party in some way, whether
                                          they were things that needed handling but could have been buffered,
                                          whether they were calls that someone else did need to handle, and so
                                          on. Not that I don't believe the data -- I do. Just interested.

                                          Ron Jeffries
                                          www.XProgramming.com
                                          The main reason that testing at the end of a development cycle finds
                                          problems is not that problems were put in near the end, it is that
                                          testing was put off until then.


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                                        • Ron Jeffries
                                          Interesting ... evocative ... not far off, I d guess. Thanks! Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com Hold on to your dream. --ELO
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Jun 1 4:08 AM
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                                            Interesting ... evocative ... not far off, I'd guess. Thanks!

                                            Ron Jeffries
                                            www.XProgramming.com
                                            Hold on to your dream. --ELO

                                            On Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 6:03:06 AM, Philip Doherty wrote:

                                            > I didn't even count the time spent on the interruption just the
                                            > time taken to get back into flow.

                                            > So, It was the number of interruptions multiplied by the stated
                                            > 15 mins to get back into flow which gives
                                            > the time. I multiplied this by the charge out rate per day which
                                            > is approx 3 times the salary per day.

                                            > A lot of calls were only re-directing to someone else, i.e.
                                            > complete waste of our time and the callers time.
                                            > It was surprising how many times these calls happened. Of course
                                            > some times the calls were useful and
                                            > necessary so after looking at the detail recorded by each person
                                            > on their interruption log I decided that
                                            > around half the calls were unavoidable. So I calculated the
                                            > figure on trying to reduce the interruptions to
                                            > half.

                                            > If you think you answer 4 calls a day during work you are
                                            > immersed in then its 4 x 15 mins (Dimarco) that's
                                            > an hour a day.

                                            > 356 days a year - 104 (weekends) - 35 (holidays) = 222 working days

                                            > So one hour a day x 222 days = 222 hours

                                            > 222 * hourly rate = Cost

                                            > Work out the percentage of calls you find to be not useful (in my
                                            > case 50%) and that's how I came up with my
                                            > figure of 10,000 per year. (we had more than 4 calls a day)

                                            > 1) The assumptions I made were that the person was in flow at the
                                            > time of interruption. 2) The saved time
                                            > would be spent on chargeable work.
                                          • Stefan Schmiedl
                                            ... You know, this last one actually had a nice side effect in a client s office. Inviting the normal people to join and help or at least give their opinion
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Jun 1 4:12 AM
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                                              PaulOldfield1@... (31.05. 07:05):

                                              > > Do others notice this effect? And do people have specific tricks to
                                              > > fend off productivity-sapping interruptions?

                                              > "Join in, we'll get round to your topic but help us with
                                              > this" etc.)

                                              You know, this last one actually had a nice side effect in a client's
                                              office. Inviting the "normal" people to join and help or at least give
                                              their opinion before delivering yet another task on my desk made them
                                              aware of how hard it can be to model the company's workflows into
                                              software, how much details need to be taken into consideration.

                                              Respect increased, interruptions decreased and occur nowadays mostly
                                              in the hour around the lunch break.

                                              s.
                                            • Ron Jeffries
                                              ... Yes. I don t want to go all Zen, but I m sure I m more productive when I m relaxed. I need to be working, but once I sit down to do the work, the more calm
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Jun 1 4:49 AM
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                                                On Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 4:28:50 AM, Dan Bunea wrote:

                                                >> Yes ... another thing that happens in "Flow" is that one may be
                                                >> concentrating well, but not being productive. We've all had that
                                                >> sensation of finally giving up on something we've been at for hours,
                                                >> and then realizing the problem before we get halfway home.
                                                >>
                                                >> Flow is good, but it's not everything.

                                                > a great answer, as always. I wonder why people tend to have too simple
                                                > answers, for very complex problems: "if I work/concentrate more, I will be
                                                > more productive" is one of these. Possibly, people see a problem: "I
                                                > didn't finish on time", find the cause: "because there was noise, and I
                                                > couldn't focus", then apply negation and think that they have found the
                                                > solution: "if I focus more I will be more productive". Unfortunately,
                                                > answers about such a complex problem as productivity and efficiency, are
                                                > complex themselves and cannot be simplified beyond a certain limit. After
                                                > all Einstein said that things thoud be made as simple as possible, but not
                                                > simpler.

                                                Yes. I don't want to go all Zen, but I'm sure I'm more productive
                                                when I'm relaxed. I need to be working, but once I sit down to do
                                                the work, the more calm and cool I am, the better it goes. I am
                                                concentrating, focused ... mindful, perhaps ... but not
                                                concentrating or working "hard".

                                                The times when I don't like to be interrupted are times when my
                                                computer is broken and I'm trying to figure out what to do about it,
                                                and even that is probably more because I'm tense and angry than
                                                because the concentration has any real value.

                                                Ron Jeffries
                                                www.XProgramming.com
                                                This is how I develop software.
                                                Take the parts that make sense to you.
                                                Ignore the rest.
                                              • Dan Bunea
                                                I can see your point very well. Some of the best ideas I had, regarding how to solve a problem, happened in weekends, holidays, walking home from work, where I
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Jun 1 5:19 AM
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                                                  I can see your point very well. Some of the best ideas I had, regarding
                                                  how to solve a problem, happened in weekends, holidays, walking home from
                                                  work, where I didn't think about programming at all, and I felt completely
                                                  relaxed. Many times this ended up, throwing a week of written code and
                                                  replacing it with a 1 hour implementetion, which was better. It seems that
                                                  relaxation, can generate ideas, which generate motivation which seems to
                                                  be one of the most important factors when doing something.

                                                  I do believe that agile methodologies are succesful, by encouraging
                                                  motivation. One huge difference as a programmer working with traditional
                                                  processes and agile processes, was the way I felt in the morning coming to
                                                  work, and when work was finished going home. If , as someone said we spend
                                                  8 hours working, another 8 hours awake and 8 hours sleeping, working means
                                                  half of our life. We should live it happy.

                                                  Dan Bunea
                                                  http://danbunea.blogspot.com

                                                  PS: I hope I don't sound as if I come from a sect :)


                                                  On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 15:49:07 +0400, Ron Jeffries
                                                  <ronjeffries@...> wrote:

                                                  > Yes. I don't want to go all Zen, but I'm sure I'm more productive
                                                  > when I'm relaxed. I need to be working, but once I sit down to do
                                                  > the work, the more calm and cool I am, the better it goes. I am
                                                  > concentrating, focused ... mindful, perhaps ... but not
                                                  > concentrating or working "hard".
                                                  > The times when I don't like to be interrupted are times when my
                                                  > computer is broken and I'm trying to figure out what to do about it,
                                                  > and even that is probably more because I'm tense and angry than
                                                  > because the concentration has any real value.



                                                  --
                                                • Paul Oldfield
                                                  (responding to Stefan) ... I also noted how often a solution became obvious when one needed to explain a problem clearly to someone new. Yet it can be
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Jun 1 8:34 AM
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                                                    (responding to Stefan)

                                                    >> "Join in, we'll get round to your topic but help us with
                                                    >> this" etc.)
                                                    >
                                                    > You know, this last one actually had a nice side effect
                                                    > in a client's office. Inviting the "normal" people to
                                                    > join and help or at least give their opinion before
                                                    > delivering yet another task on my desk made them aware
                                                    > of how hard it can be to model the company's workflows into
                                                    > software, how much details need to be taken into
                                                    > consideration.
                                                    >
                                                    > Respect increased, interruptions decreased and occur
                                                    > nowadays mostly in the hour around the lunch break.

                                                    I also noted how often a solution became obvious when one
                                                    needed to explain a problem clearly to someone new.
                                                    Yet it can be surprising how often the people can have
                                                    something useful to contribute, should they choose to.

                                                    Paul Oldfield
                                                  • Cory Foy
                                                    ... (Sorry for the late response!) An interesting thing I ve noticed lately is that when I don t have a pair, I m digging for my headphones so that I can focus
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Jun 25 12:55 PM
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                                                      Ron Jeffries wrote:
                                                      > Flow is an interesting state. As far as I know these kinds of things
                                                      > have not been addressed in studies:
                                                      >
                                                      > What happens when two people work together? Is it still flow, or
                                                      > is it something else?

                                                      (Sorry for the late response!)

                                                      An interesting thing I've noticed lately is that when I don't have a
                                                      pair, I'm digging for my headphones so that I can focus on the code. I'm
                                                      more likely to go into a heads-down mode. And we've noticed that on our
                                                      team our velocity /increases/ when only one of us is there.

                                                      So, I think that the Flow a pair is in is much different than the flow I
                                                      would be in working individually. Perhaps like Luge versus Kayaking -
                                                      you'll get down a lot faster, but you might miss out on lots of
                                                      interesting things along the way.

                                                      --
                                                      Cory Foy
                                                      http://www.cornetdesign.com
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