Posts Tagged ‘agile methodology’

That was interesting.

It is an ill-kept secret that I’ve been rather . . . unhappy . . . with aspects of my day-job*. Over the past two decades, the IT Industry, with its massive post-Y2K expansion and its penchant for constant retooling in both technology and methodology, has become the textbook definition of “churn.” It’s the poster child for the “Oh, look, a squirrel!” syndrome. I mean, how can any industry work efficiently when it spends a quarter or even a third of its resources just converting from one tool to the next?

Because of this, my enthusiasm for seeking a different post within the IT conclave has been stupendously lackluster. Leaving my current company—with my 5 weeks’ vacation and seniority—for a new firm that likely has just as much dysfunction as mine (with a possible side dish of crazy), well, it’s hard to get excited about that. (more…)

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I guess I complain about meetings a lot.

This morning, NPR’s Yuki Noguchi ran a piece on the overuse and misuse of meetings in Corporate America, and several of my friends immediately forwarded the link to me.

Yeah. I complain about meetings. A lot.

But then, I have a lot of meetings about which to complain. (more…)

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Canterbury PillarsMy life has two major occupations: developing computer software and writing books. Both of them require creativity, discipline, and concentrated effort and thought. They require freedom from interruption and a quiet atmosphere.

Yeah…ain’t gonna happen.

Corporate America and the Agile revolution that has swept up nearly every IT shop in the nation are both completely enamored with the concepts of brainstorming, groupthink, and open office layouts. “Fewer walls! More ideas!” they proclaim.

The problem is, these ideas don’t work. Study after study, we’ve seen these bastions of corporate culture debunked.

  • Brainstorming does not generate more ideas. Creativity is fostered when individuals think separately. Yes, collaboration does have its uses; it can be especially effective when dealing with complex problems, and is an excellent way to debate various solutions and winnow the wheat from the chaff. But this work is best done after individuals sit and think about the problem on their own.
  • Open office floorplans actually detract from productivity. Solitude allows concentrated, focused, uninterrupted work, while open floorplans create a noisy, distraction-filled atmosphere. Employees in a bullpen environment are less happy, have more colds/flus, have higher stress levels, and are more apt to leave the company. More importantly (to the corporate value system), software developers who work in open office environments work slower, and produce lower-grade work.

The studies disproving these long-established myths are decades old, but still Corporate Culture marches toward an ever-more open and generic work environment.

I can’t control what my company does regarding the floorplan for my office. Who am I, after all? I’m just the worker who knows how to do the job, not the suit with the MBA. So, I make do, and find ways to block out the noise and chatter and limit the interruptions.

When I write, I also need solitude. I need my quiet time. I need isolation. I get all Greta Garbo when I’m writing.

Franz Kafka explained it well when he said,

“That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”

With writing, I have a little more control over my environment, but even in a household of two, it’s sometimes difficult to be “alone enough.”

Thankfully, some of the techniques I use at the office also help at home.

  • Silence the phones
  • Turn on the music or an environmental soundtrack
  • Don’t even try to work in a room where the television is on
  • Work to a schedule that capitalizes on times when others are away, asleep, or busy with quiet tasks

I don’t find quiet time to write. I have to make quiet time.


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If you want to drive me completely bugfrak crazy, here’s what you do:

  1. Set me the task of fixing a system I know nothing about.
  2. Give me just enough time to analyze the system and get to the point where I juuuust barely understand it.
  3. Let me find the flaw in the system, and get an inkling of a solution.
  4. Take me off that task and set me on another.
  5. Repeat.

Do this enough times and I abso-effing-guarantee you I will go completely postal and do something rash. Like…I don’t know…make hum-bao from scratch. Or apply for a transfer to another group. (Trust me. In my case, that’s rash.)

I mean, seriously now, how hard is it to plan resources three weeks in advance?? (more…)

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A recent episode of “The Good Wife” made me laugh out loud. (In case you didn’t know, “The Good Wife” is not a comedy.)

In the episode, the management at a (rather ill-defined) software development firm referred to their staff as “artists.” Yes, that’s right; we were supposed to believe that this firm not only believed that the job I do–variously titled Programmer, Developer, Coder–is highly creative in nature, but that this firm also chose to encourage that by building an atmosphere that was conducive to the artistic temperament.

It’s not that software development isn’t creative. It is.

I spend my day solving problems. As a software developer, you bring me a problem and I create a solution for it. That’s it in a nutshell. I create a solution. Oh, sure, there’s a bunch of other bushwa in there, like translating your problem from Business-talk into Tech-speak, like translating it from Tech-speak into something a machine will understand, like trying to break the solution through testing, but the kernel of this job is highly creative in nature.

What I found laughable is the idea that corporate management would recognize this. Anywhere. (more…)

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