7 Lean Principles of Software Development

I thought I’d post a link to the talk I did for SPIN. This prezi presentation has some good information, but is meant to be “delivered”. You probably won’t get all the context, but this might be valuable to click through if interested.

Click the “Play” button below to start the Prezi.

Please feel free to give me your thoughts!

How Henry Ford Might View Software Development

In 1922, Henry Ford wrote in his ground breaking book, My Life and Work, these words:

“I believe that the average farmer puts to a really useful purpose only about 5% of the energy he expends…. Not only is everything done by hand, but seldom is a thought given to a logical arrangement. A farmer doing his chores will walk up and down a rickety ladder a dozen times. He will carry water for years instead of putting in a few lengths of pipe. His whole idea, when there is extra work to do, is to hire extra men. He thinks of putting money into improvements as an expense…. It is waste motion— waste effort— that makes farm prices high and profits low.”

I do believe if Mr. Ford lived today, this book might contain text similar to this:

“I believe that the average software developer puts to a really useful purpose only about 5% of the energy she expends…. Not only is everything done by hand, but seldom is a thought given to a logical arrangement. A developer doing her tasks will write code on their machine and keep it there without integration for weeks. She will manually test the same piece of code over and over for months instead of putting in a few basic automated tests. Her whole idea, when there is extra work to do, is to hire extra people. She thinks of putting money into improvements as an expense…. It is waste motion— waste effort— that makes software project failure high and profits low.”

Getting to Know You. Getting to Know All About You!

I’m a firm believer in “surveying the landscape”. I think the time you invest understanding your clients and customers needs, the better off you are. It’s one of those things that’s just reasonable. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t pedal solutions before you know the problem you are trying to solve. Which is why what I’m about to say feels blasphemous…

Sometimes it’s just not that hard to understand the real, honest to goodness business issues that are right in front of your face. Furthermore, left unchecked, some could mean curtains for your customers. In that moment, make the tough decision.

For instance, it really doesn’t take much to diagnose a gaping gunshot wound. There is no need to take someones temperature and have someone step on the scales when there is an obvious diagnosis and prescribed course of action. I would classify these types of issues as Organizational Emergencies. These issues need immediate attention! They need decisive action and the trade off between a “timeliness bias” and “consensus building bias” is wildly weighted toward timeliness. If your business problem is of this variety, don’t be afraid to make the tough decision.

In the agile community, we lean toward a complete consensus building model. In my mind, this is a very, very good approach. However, this makes Organization Emergencies more precarious. Often times the process of complete consensus building is near impossible to achieve, and left with the choice of making a tough call or throwing up our hands, we choose the path of least resistance. The typical choice leaders make between errors of commission and errors of omission is to choose omission, every single time (and twice on Monday). After all, we don’t really track this type of error. This makes the process even more difficult to manage and time begins to slip through our fingers.

I truly believe the majority of the decisions organizations need to make have a clear “consensus building” bias. This is why I feel the agile community has it right. But, when you recognize those rare occasions where delay might have dire consequences, find the fortitude to make a decision and trust your instincts.

The Social Media Adoption Advantage

I have to get something off my chest…my name is Jason and I’m a Twitter junkie.

Over the past 3 years, I have been swept up into the world of social media and haven’t looked back.

I was at a CIO Forum recently with some of the “blinking lights” crew and one of the sessions was titled, “How to Keep Social Networking From Becoming a Resume Generating Experience”

Say what? This is the technical leadership of many large organizations in SE Wisconsin and most were nodding their heads in agreement.

Am I missing something? I view my interactions on Twitter (especially) as having BUILT part of my career. The part where I’m interacting and actively learning from other industry experts. What could be better, right? I don’t necessarily “get” the above title, but the content behind this message was clear:

“As leaders, we have a burgeoning problem on our hands – social networking. If we don’t thwart it, who knows what might happen! People aimlessly surfing the internet all day…tweeting. Facebooking. LinkedIn-ing! On our equipment! In OUR building!”

In many ways, companies have yet to embrace the medium (for their employees OR their brands) and don’t truly understand the potential. I recently read a study from Harvard that describes the disposition of today’s workforce and the strong linkage of job satisfaction to access to social media. Yep, that’s right. People that are plugged in to a social circle at home (and are forbidden at work) get pissed. Is that really a surprise to anyone?

I’m stunned how disconnected many organizations (and their policy setters) are to the tsunami of social media outlets and the draw of many of today’s workforce to it. It seems clear that many organizations will need to embrace it. Those that do will have an obvious (and measurable) advantage attracting and retaining the workforce of tomorrow.