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Re: [XP] "Cards" (was: summary of the discusion

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  • Bill Caputo
    ... I think it s less about problems than it is about opportunities. It may seem counterintuitive for those of us who work with technology, but the physical
    Message 1 of 25 , Nov 7, 2009
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      On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 2:21 PM, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...> wrote:
      > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
      > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
      > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
      > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
      > document / set of documents?

      I think it's less about problems than it is about opportunities. It
      may seem counterintuitive for those of us who work with technology,
      but the physical cards and boards are simply more powerful, more
      expressive, and more useful than electronic storage. Maybe because its
      not about storage but communication.

      The key is change. Over the past 10 years I've worked at length
      (months to years) with about 8 different planning set ups and
      tangentially viewed and/or interacted with dozens more and the one
      thing that's always struck me is how much the physical (cards/boards)
      change as the project changes, and how little the electronic ones do.
      The physical ones *evolve* all manner of nuanced communication
      improvements. I've actually seen 4 teams start with the exact same
      board and evolve it in different directions so that nine months later
      you could see the common origins, but each was radically different and
      emphasized the unique challenges of their projects The cost and effort
      to make similar changes with electronic tools just doesn't happen.

      Try this experiment: Grab a stack of cards and find either a cork
      board or a wall. At the same time, create a blank spreadsheet. Start
      recording the names of some of your teachers from school, one per card
      (no need to list them all, but imagine doing so all the way back to
      the beginning). Add them to a column in the spreadsheet. Now pick a
      few names of students from each class; boys and girls (again no need
      to list them all, but imagine doing so) and write those on some cards
      and place them next to the names of their teachers. Do the same with
      the spreadsheet (say one per column, however you like). Now, mark the
      cards that are boys with a B in the lower right hand corner, G for
      girls. Add that information to your spreadsheet. Draw a vertical line
      on your board/wall with a piece of string or tape. Keeping them all in
      a vertical line, move the boys to the left of the line and the girls
      to the right. Do the same for your sheet. Now, replace the B/G
      distinction with blue cards for boys, yellow cards for girls. Mark the
      fields in the sheet with colors. And so on. Try adding the following
      however you like to the student cards: GPA, member of swim team,
      present at school today. For the teachers: subject matter taught,
      institution, Who's lunch room monitor today. And so on.

      Now, imagine doing that with a spreadsheet. How long before its
      multiple sheets? How long before you want to use macros? How long
      before its really better off in a DBMS? How long before you need
      reports? What's the maintenance cost like? How about the learning
      curve for new users/maintainers? Now what if you only need some of
      these features (but really NEED them) for one week? One day? Oh, and
      get the spreadsheet up on the wall so everyone can see it as they walk
      by please. Now imagine how much more you'd like to be able do with
      task status, team make up, process check points, etc. for a software
      project.

      AFAIC physical cards kick the crap out of electronic tools for this
      sort of thing.

      Best,
      Bill
    • William Pietri
      ... Well, for one thing, spreadsheets don t let me read minds. Consider this setup: http://www.scissor.com/resources/teamroom/ When the product manager there
      Message 2 of 25 , Nov 7, 2009
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        Sean Corfield wrote:
        > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
        > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
        > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
        > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
        > document / set of documents?
        >

        Well, for one thing, spreadsheets don't let me read minds.

        Consider this setup:

        http://www.scissor.com/resources/teamroom/

        When the product manager there was thinking about the plan, I knew it.
        Not only did I know he was thinking about it, I knew what parts he was
        thinking about, and how he felt about them. I knew when he changed it,
        and how much he changed it. I even knew when he had a good new idea. And
        I knew all of this without a word spoken, even while I was happily
        coding away.

        Even better, this awareness leads to conversations that wouldn't have
        happened otherwise.

        William
      • scott preece
        I think this experiment is totally unconvincing. Yes, there is some start-up thought required to using a tool, but basing your decision on methods on that
        Message 3 of 25 , Nov 8, 2009
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          I think this experiment is totally unconvincing. Yes, there is some start-up thought required to using a tool, but basing your decision on methods on that one-time situation is inappropriate. After a day of using the system the issues around headings and what to record would be behind you (other than the same kind of exploring you would do to improve over time, just as you would improve your use of cards).

          Nor is the communication issue necessarily a stopped - all it takes is a projector to be able to share a single spreadsheet while you work on it (or, better, an online collaboration tool that would let everybody work on the data at the same time.

          Several others have argued that cards give you more opportunity to exploit your data or use it in different ways. I think that's also looking at only one side of the coin - data stored in machine readable form also has exploitation possibilities that physical cards don't.

          I do think that if you're just starting agile, are collocated, can have a dedicated space, and your scope is small enough, starting with cards would be a good idea and a good way to learn whether you need something more.

          I just don't think these particular arguments are very convincing.

          [Disclaimer: I haven't worked in an environment that had dedicatable space and collocated team since my last academic job, 25 years ago.]

          regards,
          scott

          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Dave Rooney <dave.rooney@...> wrote:
          >
          > Sean Corfield wrote:
          > > On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 3:31 AM, Phlip <phlip2005@...> wrote:
          > >
          > >> For example, when we say "story card", we don't mean a userstory written into a
          > >> computer program with a "card" object. We mean a real, paper, 3x5 index card. A
          > >> team should start by writing these cards and pinning them to a cork board. Only
          > >> after trying that for a while should a team then experiment with an automated
          > >> card system, such as Mingle, to determine if the card system adds any value.
          > >>
          > > I see quite a bit of emphasis on physical cards for stories, at least
          > > at first (as a learning tool to get people used to the concept).
          > >
          > > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
          > > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
          > > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
          > > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
          > > document / set of documents?
          > >
          > A couple of years ago J.B Rainsberger did an interesting experiment at
          > our local user group. He had the attendees split into two groups, with
          > one group planning using cards and the other planning using Excel on a
          > laptop.
          >
          > The group with cards sat around a table facing each other and discussing
          > the content of the cards. The group using Excel all sat facing the
          > laptop, and quite often the discussion was about what columns should be
          > included, their headings, formatting, etc.
          >
          > That simple experiment cemented in my mind what I had already known -
          > the high-bandwidth collaboration that occurs when low-tech cards are
          > used is essential.
          >
          > I have no problems at all with the content of the cards being put in
          > electronic form for posterity. Some teams have even re-printed the
          > written cards after they've been captured, which again is OK.
          >
          > The only time I advocate the use of an electronic tool when a team is
          > actually doing the planning is when they are physically distributed and
          > thus can't all be in the same location.
          > --
          >
          > Dave Rooney
          > Co-founder and Consultant, The Agile Consortium
          > "Maximizing the value of your IT investments!"
          > E-mail: dave@...
          > Twitter: daverooneyca
          > http://www.theagileconsortium.com
          > http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
          >
        • Dave Rooney
          scott preece wrote: [snip] ... Your disclaimer says it all - I ve done both in the industry , i.e. outside of academia. In my experience (and obviously that
          Message 4 of 25 , Nov 8, 2009
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            scott preece wrote:

            [snip]
            > I just don't think these particular arguments are very convincing.
            >
            > [Disclaimer: I haven't worked in an environment that had dedicatable space and collocated team since my last academic job, 25 years ago.]
            >

            Your disclaimer says it all - I've done both in the "industry", i.e.
            outside of academia. In my experience (and obviously that of others)
            face to face interaction with cards is better than using a tool, and
            also better than being distributed.

            I did, however, do distributed work with Industrial Logic a few years
            back. There were many occasions where all of us were at different
            locations spread around North America. We used Skype and ProjectCards
            for planning and Skype/VNC for remote pairing, and we did just fine.
            Would it have been better if we were all in the office together in
            Berkeley? HELL YES!! That wasn't feasible, so we did the best we
            could. (Bear in mind, though, that all of us in that group were
            experienced XP practitioners.)

            I'm not saying that you can't be successful with tools and distributed
            teams. I'm saying that if you can all be in one location, get together
            and use physical cards FIRST before jumping to an automated solution.

            --

            Dave Rooney
            Co-founder and Consultant, The Agile Consortium
            "Maximizing the value of your IT investments!"
            E-mail: dave@...
            Twitter: daverooneyca
            http://www.theagileconsortium.com
            http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
          • kentb
            Another positive aspect of cards pointed out to me by my partner, a master multi-tasking mom, is that as the release cycle shortens, the slices of time you
            Message 5 of 25 , Nov 9, 2009
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              Another positive aspect of cards pointed out to me by my partner, a master
              multi-tasking mom, is that as the release cycle shortens, the slices of time
              you have for each activity become smaller and the startup overhead allowable
              for each activity also shortens. If you design for a month at a time, the
              fact that your design tool takes 2 minutes to startup is irrelevant. When
              you design a minute at a time, you need your design tools built right into
              your IDE so you can start designing with a keystroke.

              The same is true of planning. If planning is an activity occurring in
              hour-long chunks, taking 30 seconds to fire up a planning tool is no big
              deal. If planning happens in 15 second chunks ("Could you remember that we
              have to add a foobar flag to this later"), then the tool has to start up
              instantly or you're tempted to stop explicitly planning. Startup time is one
              super feature of cards. I always have one beside my keyboard, When I have a
              thought like the one above, I jot it onto the card and I'm back to coding.

              This suggests that there is a niche for an "instantly available" planning
              tool that might be functionally inferior at first but fits unobtrusively
              into the flow of development.

              Cheers,

              Kent

              _____

              From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
              [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bill Caputo
              Sent: Saturday, November 07, 2009 1:47 PM
              To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [XP] "Cards" (was: summary of the discusion




              On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 2:21 PM, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@
              <mailto:seancorfield%40gmail.com> gmail.com> wrote:
              > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
              > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
              > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
              > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
              > document / set of documents?

              I think it's less about problems than it is about opportunities. It
              may seem counterintuitive for those of us who work with technology,
              but the physical cards and boards are simply more powerful, more
              expressive, and more useful than electronic storage. Maybe because its
              not about storage but communication.

              The key is change. Over the past 10 years I've worked at length
              (months to years) with about 8 different planning set ups and
              tangentially viewed and/or interacted with dozens more and the one
              thing that's always struck me is how much the physical (cards/boards)
              change as the project changes, and how little the electronic ones do.
              The physical ones *evolve* all manner of nuanced communication
              improvements. I've actually seen 4 teams start with the exact same
              board and evolve it in different directions so that nine months later
              you could see the common origins, but each was radically different and
              emphasized the unique challenges of their projects The cost and effort
              to make similar changes with electronic tools just doesn't happen.

              Try this experiment: Grab a stack of cards and find either a cork
              board or a wall. At the same time, create a blank spreadsheet. Start
              recording the names of some of your teachers from school, one per card
              (no need to list them all, but imagine doing so all the way back to
              the beginning). Add them to a column in the spreadsheet. Now pick a
              few names of students from each class; boys and girls (again no need
              to list them all, but imagine doing so) and write those on some cards
              and place them next to the names of their teachers. Do the same with
              the spreadsheet (say one per column, however you like). Now, mark the
              cards that are boys with a B in the lower right hand corner, G for
              girls. Add that information to your spreadsheet. Draw a vertical line
              on your board/wall with a piece of string or tape. Keeping them all in
              a vertical line, move the boys to the left of the line and the girls
              to the right. Do the same for your sheet. Now, replace the B/G
              distinction with blue cards for boys, yellow cards for girls. Mark the
              fields in the sheet with colors. And so on. Try adding the following
              however you like to the student cards: GPA, member of swim team,
              present at school today. For the teachers: subject matter taught,
              institution, Who's lunch room monitor today. And so on.

              Now, imagine doing that with a spreadsheet. How long before its
              multiple sheets? How long before you want to use macros? How long
              before its really better off in a DBMS? How long before you need
              reports? What's the maintenance cost like? How about the learning
              curve for new users/maintainers? Now what if you only need some of
              these features (but really NEED them) for one week? One day? Oh, and
              get the spreadsheet up on the wall so everyone can see it as they walk
              by please. Now imagine how much more you'd like to be able do with
              task status, team make up, process check points, etc. for a software
              project.

              AFAIC physical cards kick the crap out of electronic tools for this
              sort of thing.

              Best,
              Bill





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Curtis Cooley
              ... The projector doesn t fix the communication problem, Instead of everyone sitting around staring at a laptop screen while one person works, everyone is
              Message 6 of 25 , Nov 9, 2009
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                On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 12:38 PM, scott preece <sepreece@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                >
                > Nor is the communication issue necessarily a stopped - all it takes is a projector to be able to share a single spreadsheet while you work on it (or, better, an online collaboration tool that would let everybody work on the data at the same time.
                >

                The projector doesn't fix the communication problem, Instead of
                everyone sitting around staring at a laptop screen while one person
                works, everyone is sitting around staring at the wall while one person
                works.

                With cards, everyone is engaged, working and talking with each other.
                You can't replicate having a physical object in your hands and how it
                opens up communication and activates parts of the brain that are
                dormant otherwise.
                --
                Curtis Cooley
                curtis.cooley@...
                home:http://curtiscooley.com
                blog:http://ponderingobjectorienteddesign.blogspot.com
                ===============
                Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if
                you must be without one, be without the strategy.
                -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf
              • scott preece
                There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the same room staring at the card in front of you is no more communicative than staring at the
                Message 7 of 25 , Nov 10, 2009
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                  There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the same room staring at the card in front of you is no more communicative than staring at the laptop screen in front of you - it's the transmission of the idea (as represented by the card) that is useful.

                  When the communication is meant to be single-threaded (when you're trying as a group to resolve one thing at a time), the projector (or laptop) is a positive force, as it directs attention to that one thing. In other modes, when you're working individually or in small groups, you wouldn't use a single display that way.

                  However, the projector (or laptop) doesn't have to be single-threaded, if you use appropriate tools. You can all be working individually (or in ad hoc clusters) and reflecting your work on a shared surface.

                  People think in many ways. Just as some people learn better from visual input and others learn better from audio input, I'm prepared to believe that for some people, "having a physical object in your hands ... opens up communication and activates parts of the brain that are dormant otherwise," it's just not my own experience.

                  I'm sure there's an interesting study in there for a psych grad student.

                  regards,
                  scott


                  --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Curtis Cooley <curtis.cooley@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 12:38 PM, scott preece <sepreece@...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Nor is the communication issue necessarily a stopped - all it takes is a projector to be able to share a single spreadsheet while you work on it (or, better, an online collaboration tool that would let everybody work on the data at the same time.
                  > >
                  >
                  > The projector doesn't fix the communication problem, Instead of
                  > everyone sitting around staring at a laptop screen while one person
                  > works, everyone is sitting around staring at the wall while one person
                  > works.
                  >
                  > With cards, everyone is engaged, working and talking with each other.
                  > You can't replicate having a physical object in your hands and how it
                  > opens up communication and activates parts of the brain that are
                  > dormant otherwise.
                  > --
                  > Curtis Cooley
                  > curtis.cooley@...
                  > home:http://curtiscooley.com
                  > blog:http://ponderingobjectorienteddesign.blogspot.com
                  > ===============
                  > Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if
                  > you must be without one, be without the strategy.
                  > -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf
                  >
                • Curtis Cooley
                  ... As a soccer coach I was taught that players have basically three modes of learning, and each player is better at one than the other. The modes are visual,
                  Message 8 of 25 , Nov 10, 2009
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                    On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 9:15 AM, scott preece <sepreece@...> wrote:
                    > People think in many ways. Just as some people learn better from visual input and others learn better from audio input, I'm prepared to believe that for some people, "having a physical object in your hands ... opens up communication and activates parts of the brain that are dormant otherwise," it's just not my own experience.
                    >
                    > I'm sure there's an interesting study in there for a psych grad student.
                    >

                    As a soccer coach I was taught that players have basically three modes
                    of learning, and each player is better at one than the other. The
                    modes are visual, aural, and kinetic, so as a coach, whenever you are
                    introducing something new, you explain it, demonstrate it, then have
                    the players execute it.

                    How does staring at a laptop screen spark kinetic learning?

                    I can not find the research, though I'm sure it's out there, I do find
                    it hard to believe that physical sensation and motor movement of the
                    hands activate the same area of the brain that the ears and eyes do.

                    I taught a class on OO design. Most of the time I did lecture type
                    teaching, where I drew UML on the board and solicited input from the
                    students. When I got to CRC cards, I noticed that when I had the
                    students do a small group exercise, more students were actively
                    involved than when I lectured. Holding the CRC cards sparked more
                    interest and input. At that point I learned that when I wanted more
                    class involvement, doing a CRC exercise was much more effective than
                    lecturing at the white board or showing code/UML on the projector.

                    I've also actually been involved in planning sessions of various
                    formats. I've used index cards and computer software. My observation
                    is that the team is more actively engaged when cards are used. At one
                    job the team lead actually started passing the keyboard around to try
                    to get more people actively involved where had we been using index
                    cards, we simply wouldn't have had that problem and maybe could have
                    spent that energy solving one of the customer's.
                    --
                    Curtis Cooley
                    curtis.cooley@...
                    home:http://curtiscooley.com
                    blog:http://ponderingobjectorienteddesign.blogspot.com
                    ===============
                    Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if
                    you must be without one, be without the strategy.
                    -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf
                  • Ron Jeffries
                    Hello, scott. On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 12:15:59 PM, you ... No ... it s the discussion ... ... No ... groups are never single threaded ... ... Yes
                    Message 9 of 25 , Nov 10, 2009
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                      Hello, scott. On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 12:15:59 PM, you
                      wrote:

                      > There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the
                      > same room staring at the card in front of you is no more
                      > communicative than staring at the laptop screen in front of you -
                      > it's the transmission of the idea (as represented by the card)
                      > that is useful.

                      No ... it's the discussion ...

                      > When the communication is meant to be single-threaded (when you're
                      > trying as a group to resolve one thing at a time), the projector
                      > (or laptop) is a positive force, as it directs attention to that
                      > one thing. In other modes, when you're working individually or in
                      > small groups, you wouldn't use a single display that way.

                      No ... groups are never single threaded ...

                      > However, the projector (or laptop) doesn't have to be
                      > single-threaded, if you use appropriate tools. You can all be
                      > working individually (or in ad hoc clusters) and reflecting your
                      > work on a shared surface.

                      Yes ... not much better than a table for that ...

                      > People think in many ways. Just as some people learn better from
                      > visual input and others learn better from audio input, I'm
                      > prepared to believe that for some people, "having a physical
                      > object in your hands ... opens up communication and activates
                      > parts of the brain that are dormant otherwise," it's just not my
                      > own experience.

                      How did you measure what your brain was doing?

                      > I'm sure there's an interesting study in there for a psych grad student.

                      I'd think so, yes.

                      Ron Jeffries
                      www.XProgramming.com
                      www.xprogramming.com/blog
                      Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle.
                      -- Bruce Lee
                    • thycotic
                      ... We have tried both physical and virtual on several projects with mixed results. It seems that a virtual taskboard is sub-optimal and is only really useful
                      Message 10 of 25 , Nov 10, 2009
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                        --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
                        > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
                        > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
                        > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
                        > document / set of documents?

                        We have tried both physical and virtual on several projects with mixed results. It seems that a virtual taskboard is sub-optimal and is only really useful when a team is distributed. If the team is co-located then a physical taskboard is the most visible, flexible and highest bandwidth for communication.

                        There is some discussion on this idea here:
                        http://agileshout.com/questions/51/agile-process-tools
                      • scott preece
                        Hi, Ron, ... How does the card engender discussion any more than the same content projected on a screen? ... No, but discussions are. ... How did you? ...
                        Message 11 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                          Hi, Ron,

                          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Hello, scott. On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 12:15:59 PM, you
                          > wrote:
                          >
                          > > There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the
                          > > same room staring at the card in front of you is no more
                          > > communicative than staring at the laptop screen in front of you -
                          > > it's the transmission of the idea (as represented by the card)
                          > > that is useful.
                          >
                          > No ... it's the discussion ...

                          How does the card engender discussion any more than the same content projected on a screen?

                          >
                          > > When the communication is meant to be single-threaded (when you're
                          > > trying as a group to resolve one thing at a time), the projector
                          > > (or laptop) is a positive force, as it directs attention to that
                          > > one thing. In other modes, when you're working individually or in
                          > > small groups, you wouldn't use a single display that way.
                          >
                          > No ... groups are never single threaded ...

                          No, but discussions are.

                          ...
                          >
                          > > People think in many ways. Just as some people learn better from
                          > > visual input and others learn better from audio input, I'm
                          > > prepared to believe that for some people, "having a physical
                          > > object in your hands ... opens up communication and activates
                          > > parts of the brain that are dormant otherwise," it's just not my
                          > > own experience.
                          >
                          > How did you measure what your brain was doing?

                          How did you?
                          ...
                        • scott preece
                          Hi, Curtis, ... It wouldn t, but I wouldn t say there was a kinetic component to what was involved. ... Isn t it likely that it was doing the exercise (having
                          Message 12 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                            Hi, Curtis,

                            --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Curtis Cooley <curtis.cooley@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 9:15 AM, scott preece <sepreece@...> wrote:
                            ...
                            > How does staring at a laptop screen spark kinetic learning?
                            >
                            It wouldn't, but I wouldn't say there was a kinetic component to what was involved.

                            ...
                            > I taught a class on OO design. Most of the time I did lecture type
                            > teaching, where I drew UML on the board and solicited input from the
                            > students. When I got to CRC cards, I noticed that when I had the
                            > students do a small group exercise, more students were actively
                            > involved than when I lectured. Holding the CRC cards sparked more
                            > interest and input. At that point I learned that when I wanted more
                            > class involvement, doing a CRC exercise was much more effective than
                            > lecturing at the white board or showing code/UML on the projector.
                            >

                            Isn't it likely that it was doing the exercise (having to DO something, as opposed to having you describe it) that was what focused the class, rather than the specific medium?

                            > I've also actually been involved in planning sessions of various
                            > formats. I've used index cards and computer software. My observation
                            > is that the team is more actively engaged when cards are used. At one
                            > job the team lead actually started passing the keyboard around to try
                            > to get more people actively involved where had we been using index
                            > cards, we simply wouldn't have had that problem and maybe could have
                            > spent that energy solving one of the customer's.

                            That's what I was suggesting in terms of having appropriate collaboration tools - you need tools that accept multiple inputs and display multiple strands of discourse.

                            Ideally, you would also enable the participants to have personal views on the strands (organize the notes individually) and to view and compare how others organized the same notes, which you can't do with physical cards that can only be in one place at a time...
                          • Charlie Poole
                            Hi Scott, ... Ah! You re thinking of cards as a medium of information transmittal! Looked at in that way, there are other media I would prefer. For example, I
                            Message 13 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                              Hi Scott,

                              > > I taught a class on OO design. Most of the time I did lecture type
                              > > teaching, where I drew UML on the board and solicited input
                              > from the
                              > > students. When I got to CRC cards, I noticed that when I had the
                              > > students do a small group exercise, more students were actively
                              > > involved than when I lectured. Holding the CRC cards sparked more
                              > > interest and input. At that point I learned that when I wanted more
                              > > class involvement, doing a CRC exercise was much more
                              > effective than
                              > > lecturing at the white board or showing code/UML on the projector.
                              > >
                              >
                              > Isn't it likely that it was doing the exercise (having to DO
                              > something, as opposed to having you describe it) that was
                              > what focused the class, rather than the specific medium?

                              Ah! You're thinking of cards as a medium of information transmittal!

                              Looked at in that way, there are other media I would prefer. For
                              example, I learned in school to use index cards to take notes
                              for a term paper. I still do that some of the time when I am
                              preparing a talk but will often use electronic tools that are
                              better for the purpose.

                              However, in XP cards are not merely used as media for the display
                              and transmittal of information. They are tokens in a set of
                              cooperative games we play as part of making a project work.

                              Taking the example of CRC cards, several people can actually
                              *do* (not explain) design by moving the cards around a table
                              and making various notations on them. Somehow, these actions
                              pull out ideas in a way that I have not seen using other sorts
                              of tools - although you can approximate it with salt-shakers
                              and such if you don't have any cards handy.

                              When you need interactivity, physical devices help. Online
                              games may possibly come close to the same effect some day,
                              at least for some people. But they aren't there yet.

                              Charlie
                            • Dave Rooney
                              ... Because the card is so small, that the people aren t really looking at it. They are facing each other having a discussion, rather than facing a screen
                              Message 14 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                                scott preece wrote:
                                > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                                >
                                >> Hello, scott. On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 12:15:59 PM, you
                                >> wrote:
                                >>
                                >>
                                >>> There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the
                                >>> same room staring at the card in front of you is no more
                                >>> communicative than staring at the laptop screen in front of you -
                                >>> it's the transmission of the idea (as represented by the card)
                                >>> that is useful.
                                >>>
                                >> No ... it's the discussion ...
                                >>
                                >
                                > How does the card engender discussion any more than the same content projected on a screen?
                                >

                                Because the card is so small, that the people aren't really looking at
                                it. They are facing each other having a discussion, rather than facing
                                a screen reading.

                                You can also lay all the cards for a system out on a table/floor/wall
                                and move them about easily. This provides (yet) another visual cue for
                                the size of the system, and what work is most important. The fact that
                                they can be easily moved about means that the people involved become
                                comfortable making changes rather than creating plans that become
                                ossified over time.

                                --

                                Dave Rooney
                                Co-founder and Consultant, The Agile Consortium
                                "Maximizing the value of your IT investments!"
                                E-mail: dave@...
                                Twitter: daverooneyca
                                http://www.theagileconsortium.com
                                http://practicalagility.blogspot.com
                              • Curtis Cooley
                                ... This reminds me of a story. A colleague of mine was working with a company and having difficulty explaing that the scope of the requirements was much
                                Message 15 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                                  On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:25 AM, Dave Rooney <dave.rooney@...> wrote:
                                  > You can also lay all the cards for a system out on a table/floor/wall
                                  > and move them about easily. This provides (yet) another visual cue for
                                  > the size of the system, and what work is most important. The fact that
                                  > they can be easily moved about means that the people involved become
                                  > comfortable making changes rather than creating plans that become
                                  > ossified over time.
                                  >

                                  This reminds me of a story.

                                  A colleague of mine was working with a company and having difficulty
                                  explaing that the scope of the requirements was much larger than the
                                  product and project managers were expecting. He tried lots of ways to
                                  try to get everyone on the same page as far as scope. Nothing worked
                                  until he wrote a story for every feature on an index card and pinned
                                  them to the wall. He brought the entire team into the room and said
                                  "That's the scope." From that point on he never got anymore grief from
                                  management about why the project was taking longer than expected.
                                  Until they saw the scope laid out in physical form, they really
                                  couldn't grasp how much they were asking for.
                                  --
                                  Curtis Cooley
                                  curtis.cooley@...
                                  home:http://curtiscooley.com
                                  blog:http://ponderingobjectorienteddesign.blogspot.com
                                  ===============
                                  Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if
                                  you must be without one, be without the strategy.
                                  -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf
                                • Ron Jeffries
                                  Hello, scott. On Wednesday, November 11, 2009, at 1:30:16 PM, you ... Is there more chit-chat at a poker game or watching a movie? ... Not in my experience
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                                    Hello, scott. On Wednesday, November 11, 2009, at 1:30:16 PM, you
                                    wrote:

                                    >> > There are multiple impediments to communication. Sitting in the
                                    >> > same room staring at the card in front of you is no more
                                    >> > communicative than staring at the laptop screen in front of you -
                                    >> > it's the transmission of the idea (as represented by the card)
                                    >> > that is useful.
                                    >>
                                    >> No ... it's the discussion ...

                                    > How does the card engender discussion any more than the same
                                    > content projected on a screen?

                                    Is there more chit-chat at a poker game or watching a movie?

                                    >>
                                    >> > When the communication is meant to be single-threaded (when you're
                                    >> > trying as a group to resolve one thing at a time), the projector
                                    >> > (or laptop) is a positive force, as it directs attention to that
                                    >> > one thing. In other modes, when you're working individually or in
                                    >> > small groups, you wouldn't use a single display that way.
                                    >>
                                    >> No ... groups are never single threaded ...

                                    > No, but discussions are.

                                    Not in my experience ...

                                    >> > People think in many ways. Just as some people learn better from
                                    >> > visual input and others learn better from audio input, I'm
                                    >> > prepared to believe that for some people, "having a physical
                                    >> > object in your hands ... opens up communication and activates
                                    >> > parts of the brain that are dormant otherwise," it's just not my
                                    >> > own experience.
                                    >>
                                    >> How did you measure what your brain was doing?

                                    > How did you?

                                    I've worked both ways until I was good at each, observing what
                                    happened.

                                    Ron Jeffries
                                    www.XProgramming.com
                                    www.xprogramming.com/blog
                                    Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle.
                                    -- Bruce Lee
                                  • William Pietri
                                    ... That s a fantastic way of putting that. If cards were primarily for holding information, then many problems with card use would be solved by bigger cards.
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                                      Charlie Poole wrote:
                                      > Ah! You're thinking of cards as a medium of information transmittal!
                                      >

                                      That's a fantastic way of putting that.

                                      If cards were primarily for holding information, then many problems with
                                      card use would be solved by bigger cards. In practice, I find that I'm
                                      much more likely to help a struggling team by giving them smaller cards
                                      and fatter pens.

                                      William
                                    • Tim Ottinger
                                      ... I love stories, and this one in particular. Thanks for it. Definitely seeing how many stories are in the air at once in a clear way is a powerful thing.
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Nov 11, 2009
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                                        ----- Original Message ----

                                        > From: Curtis Cooley <curtis.cooley@...>

                                        > This reminds me of a story.
                                        >
                                        > A colleague of mine was working with a company and having difficulty
                                        > explaing that the scope of the requirements was much larger than the
                                        > product and project managers were expecting. He tried lots of ways to
                                        > try to get everyone on the same page as far as scope. Nothing worked
                                        > until he wrote a story for every feature on an index card and pinned
                                        > them to the wall. He brought the entire team into the room and said
                                        > "That's the scope." From that point on he never got anymore grief from
                                        > management about why the project was taking longer than expected.
                                        > Until they saw the scope laid out in physical form, they really
                                        > couldn't grasp how much they were asking for.
                                        > --

                                        I love stories, and this one in particular. Thanks for it.

                                        Definitely seeing how many stories are in the air at once in a
                                        clear way is a powerful thing.


                                        Tim Ottinger
                                        http://agileinaflash.blogspot.com/
                                        http://agileotter.blogspot.com/
                                      • Curtis Cooley
                                        ... That s brilliant. I ve seen story cards defined as simply a promise to have a conversation. I think that is another strength cards have over electronic
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Nov 12, 2009
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                                          On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 5:01 PM, William Pietri <william@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Charlie Poole wrote:
                                          > > Ah! You're thinking of cards as a medium of information transmittal!
                                          > >
                                          >
                                          > That's a fantastic way of putting that.
                                          >
                                          > If cards were primarily for holding information, then many problems with
                                          > card use would be solved by bigger cards. In practice, I find that I'm
                                          > much more likely to help a struggling team by giving them smaller cards
                                          > and fatter pens.
                                          >

                                          That's brilliant.

                                          I've seen story cards defined as simply a "promise to have a
                                          conversation." I think that is another strength cards have over
                                          electronic media. With an electronic tool, you can add and add and add
                                          information until developers no longer need to have conversations with
                                          the customer. That's bad.

                                          --
                                          Curtis Cooley
                                          curtis.cooley@...
                                          home:http://curtiscooley.com
                                          blog:http://ponderingobjectorienteddesign.blogspot.com
                                          ===============
                                          Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if
                                          you must be without one, be without the strategy.
                                          -- H. Norman Schwarzkopf
                                        • Ilja Preuß
                                          See http://iljapreuss.blogspot.com/2009/07/criteria-for-scrum-tool-or-any-agile.html for some of my thoughts on the topic. Cheers, Ilja
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Nov 12, 2009
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                                            See http://iljapreuss.blogspot.com/2009/07/criteria-for-scrum-tool-or-any-agile.html
                                            for some of my thoughts on the topic.

                                            Cheers, Ilja

                                            2009/11/7 Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...>:
                                            > On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 3:31 AM, Phlip <phlip2005@...> wrote:
                                            >> For example, when we say "story card", we don't mean a userstory written into a
                                            >> computer program with a "card" object. We mean a real, paper, 3x5 index card. A
                                            >> team should start by writing these cards and pinning them to a cork board. Only
                                            >> after trying that for a while should a team then experiment with an automated
                                            >> card system, such as Mingle, to determine if the card system adds any value.
                                            >
                                            > I see quite a bit of emphasis on physical cards for stories, at least
                                            > at first (as a learning tool to get people used to the concept).
                                            >
                                            > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
                                            > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
                                            > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
                                            > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
                                            > document / set of documents?
                                            > --
                                            > Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                                            > Railo Technologies US -- http://getrailo.com/
                                            > An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                                            >
                                            > "If you're not annoying somebody, you're not really alive."
                                            > -- Margaret Atwood
                                            >
                                            >
                                            > ------------------------------------
                                            >
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                                          • pncampbell99
                                            ... Its hard to come up with a scientific explanation but the experience of myself and others that have tried electronisising xp is that its counter
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
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                                              --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 3:31 AM, Phlip <phlip2005@...> wrote:
                                              > > For example, when we say "story card", we don't mean a userstory written into a
                                              > > computer program with a "card" object. We mean a real, paper, 3x5 index card. A
                                              > > team should start by writing these cards and pinning them to a cork board. Only
                                              > > after trying that for a while should a team then experiment with an automated
                                              > > card system, such as Mingle, to determine if the card system adds any value.
                                              >
                                              > I see quite a bit of emphasis on physical cards for stories, at least
                                              > at first (as a learning tool to get people used to the concept).
                                              >
                                              > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
                                              > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
                                              > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
                                              > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
                                              > document / set of documents?
                                              > --
                                              > Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                                              > Railo Technologies US -- http://getrailo.com/
                                              > An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                                              >
                                              > "If you're not annoying somebody, you're not really alive."
                                              > -- Margaret Atwood

                                              Its hard to come up with a scientific explanation but the experience of myself and others that have tried "electronisising" xp is that its counter productive.

                                              Its worth noting that the same applies to most of the xp practices. But thats the essence of xp - its a set of practices that have been evolved empirically because they simply work even though some of them seem initially illogical on some level (e.g. pair programming, test-first etc)

                                              My personal experience is that people build an affection for the physical cards and a board that doesn't happen with an electronic planning tool.

                                              Its probably possible to find "scientific" reasons why this is the case if we look hard enough (maybe the physical cards take on the properties of "anchors" in NLP ... who knows). The thing is I don't much care because I trust my own experience and that of others I respect (and that is as I said earlier is the basis of xp's evolution).
                                            • JackM
                                              Cards are especially great for co-located teams. And the benefits are huge from a group conversation purspective. They really encourage old fashioned, team
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Dec 2, 2009
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                                                Cards are especially great for co-located teams. And the benefits are huge from a group conversation purspective. They really encourage old fashioned, team work, communication and collaboration.

                                                However, when teams are not co-located especially when they're at long distances like off shore, it makes it really hard to manage that way.

                                                Additionally if you have long backlogs, with lot's of stories (which is a problem in and of itself) it's hard to keep track of things in a card deck, search, sort etc.

                                                But if you can go the tactile approach, that's definitely been shown to be highly effective and that's why so manny (if not all) coaches recommend that route.

                                                Jack
                                                www.agilebuddy.com
                                                twitter.com/agilebuddy
                                                blog.agilebuddy.com

                                                --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "pncampbell99" <yahoo@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@> wrote:
                                                > >
                                                > > On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 3:31 AM, Phlip <phlip2005@> wrote:
                                                > > > For example, when we say "story card", we don't mean a userstory written into a
                                                > > > computer program with a "card" object. We mean a real, paper, 3x5 index card. A
                                                > > > team should start by writing these cards and pinning them to a cork board. Only
                                                > > > after trying that for a while should a team then experiment with an automated
                                                > > > card system, such as Mingle, to determine if the card system adds any value.
                                                > >
                                                > > I see quite a bit of emphasis on physical cards for stories, at least
                                                > > at first (as a learning tool to get people used to the concept).
                                                > >
                                                > > Can some folks talk about why putting the stories into some shared
                                                > > data store rather on physical cards might not be advisable? What sort
                                                > > of problems have folks run into using some simple electronic
                                                > > representation, such as a spreadsheet or some other simple electronic
                                                > > document / set of documents?
                                                > > --
                                                > > Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                                                > > Railo Technologies US -- http://getrailo.com/
                                                > > An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                                                > >
                                                > > "If you're not annoying somebody, you're not really alive."
                                                > > -- Margaret Atwood
                                                >
                                                > Its hard to come up with a scientific explanation but the experience of myself and others that have tried "electronisising" xp is that its counter productive.
                                                >
                                                > Its worth noting that the same applies to most of the xp practices. But thats the essence of xp - its a set of practices that have been evolved empirically because they simply work even though some of them seem initially illogical on some level (e.g. pair programming, test-first etc)
                                                >
                                                > My personal experience is that people build an affection for the physical cards and a board that doesn't happen with an electronic planning tool.
                                                >
                                                > Its probably possible to find "scientific" reasons why this is the case if we look hard enough (maybe the physical cards take on the properties of "anchors" in NLP ... who knows). The thing is I don't much care because I trust my own experience and that of others I respect (and that is as I said earlier is the basis of xp's evolution).
                                                >
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