Little by little...

Little by little...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Open the Door for Someone

Even though I played sports in school, I struggled with running longer distances my entire life. Many friends encouraged me to run, telling me how much they enjoyed it. Despite their kind words, I still couldn’t run a mile. As an adult I gave up and resolved that I was not meant to be a runner.

And then one day I was talking to a friend. He happened to be a runner. I told him that I could not run and he mentioned casually that he was surprised. He thought that certain aspects of running such as tracking progress, goal setting, etc., suited my personality and that he thought I would enjoy it.

I laughed it off. But the idea wouldn’t go away. I started to see myself from his perspective. Maybe I did have it in me. Maybe I had approached it wrong all these years.

So I bought a treadmill and started a CouchTo5k program. Turns out I really like running! I’m not doing marathons, or even 5k’s yet, but I can’t describe the satisfaction of running a mile after 20 years of thinking that I never would.

What I learned from this:
  •     When people tell me that I should do something because they like it, I nod while I think of reasons why it won’t work for me.
  •     I like being successful. And I like even the possibility of being successful.
  •   Sometimes I need other people to open my eyes to my own potential. 

That last point is the game-changer. In the chaos of life, sometimes we take our own skills, quirks, talents, for granted. By noticing a certain specific quality and suggesting that someone would be good at something because of it, you open the door for them to re-discover that about themselves. Sometimes just knowing that someone else thinks you can do something is enough to take the first step through the door.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No More Waiting In Line

For years, the roles on a typical software development team fell on some continuum close to or away from the actual users of the software. Developers sat at one end cranking out code and the business sat at the other making requests. In the middle were project managers and QA folks and, most recently, business analysts trying to make sure the ‘right’ software was delivered.

There is a major flaw with this model.

It’s based on the assumption that we can ask the business what they want and then we can go off and build stuff. The customer puts us into motion with their request or problem and then waits at the end of the line to tell us if we got it right.

It has been tolerated because we usually can deliver some software and we usually don’t screw it up too bad. We downplay the fact that the customer is confused by what was delivered, unsatisfied with the results and wondering how this could have cost so much.

Agile proposes a new model; one that satisfies customers and teams.

The agile model is a circle with the business at the center and the team built around them. The business still puts us into motion, but stays connected with the team throughout development, elaborating on requirements, prioritizing work and directing the course of the project. The roles of the team members also change as everyone focuses on completing the work instead of staying within the confines of their job description.

This collaboration focuses on understanding and satisfying the business needs and constantly communicating about what will be delivered and when. It also increases the team’s satisfaction because they are delivering the ‘right’ software. And that was the point in the first place.