Vicious Iterations

‘Never confuse movement with action.’ Ernest Hemingway Most of us would agree that developing using iterations is essentially safe because fast, consecutive iterations lead naturally to a self-correcting system. But there is danger oversimplifying what iterations can do. For an iterative process to self-correct it must start in the vicinity of the desired outcome or … Read more

Agile Devolved

I am safe; I am wearing my safety belt! Teenage driver We are fast; we are doing Agile! Management team “The word ‘Agile’ has been subverted to the point where it is effectively meaningless, and what passes for an agile community seems to be largely an arena for consultants and vendors to hawk services and … Read more

People Problems

No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. The Secrets of Consulting – Gerald Weinberg (1985) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Agile Manifesto (2001) Corollary If essentially you are not fixing a people problem, then you are not really solving a problem.

Show Them

I must confess that, earlier in my career, it always made me anxious to show the end user any incomplete work. As a consultant, it seemed like a silly opportunity to invite scope changes, unwelcome feedback, and basically a drain on my time and energy. It was many years later that I developed the skin … Read more

Design is a Verb

Often in the past, I would ask something like “is the design ready?” Implicit in this question was the assumption that “design” was just a thing, a piece of meatloaf cooking in the oven that I waited for eagerly. Maybe I was expecting evidence of a “good design” in the form of a nice document … Read more

Work completed and false confidence

“Mark has developed most of the solution.” That’s what they told me when I joined the company. It was the last century; I was young and all-knowing back then. The software we were developing would read weight measurements from a precision digital scale connected to a PC. Then, each measurement will be tagged, stored and … Read more

Decaying Excellence

To: All TeamSubject: Kickoff Notes Guiding principles we agreed to: We recognize that achieving 100% perfection is impossible. We will aim for excellence, and we will hold ourselves to high standards: our target is 90% of perfect. To: All TeamSubject: Reminder of our guiding principles We have been at this for a while, perfection is … Read more

Email Fury

“About 20,000 emails,” I’d say rolling my eyes, “that’s how many I get in one year—I counted.” Then I’d plunge into a pool of gloom and commiserate with my colleague about how email is destroying our productivity, our creative time, our personal peace and the global supply of fresh salmon. I’d go on rambling and … Read more


I sat on the kitchen counter shaking my legs nervously, waiting for a reaction from my parents. I had just told them that I was going to leave the country for good. I was moving to Colorado thanks to a job opportunity there. It was the early 1990’s.In 1956 my parents had also made an … Read more