Friday, May 26, 2017

That's a goatee of a different color

I've made a transition from gray tones to living color - much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (the first color motion picture).




Dog Groomer's have a natural capability to accept a being for what they are and how they present, as well as what their humans may desire.  This is a wonderful ability - we should learn from them.  I had a great conversation with my local groomers at the Blissful Bark Dog Wash, about peoples expectations and inherent biases based upon look, job title, etc.  This capability of acceptance and a deeper level of judgement came to me as they asked about my hair color choices.  They told of the judgements that a dog groomer receives - one even equated the title's status to that of a stripper (good company if you can have friends in low places).

From this and other conversation I've had as a result of a choice to live with more color, I've made some interesting observation about you people.


  • You humans are preoccupied by noticing inconsequential details in your field of view and then fixating upon the possible meaning of such trivial, while being totally oblivious to the important patterns happening all around you.   Dogs do not have this bias.
  • Women are about 8.347 times more accepting of the appearance of someone than men are.
  • Men are generally judgmental - there first question for me has been - Why?
  • White Male Privilege is difficult to comprehend from this state of being.  Having experienced just one fuchsia hair's width of the other side for a fleeting 3 weeks - I can say I understand intellectually - but have no knowledge or understand of it - no experience - no wisdom.
  • Human bias to blend in to the group norm, to look like others, but desire to stand out is ineffable.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Team <-> Group

What makes a team?  Is there a continuum upon which sits the term team?  Some have referred to difficulty comparing apples to oranges - I find it quite easy.

Apple <-> Orange <-> Pomegranate

<- Team ---- Group ->



List of English terms of venery, by animal

Why do we not list HUMAN in the animal column when listing group names?

For example,  horses are know in groups as: 
teamin harness
haras or harrase
herd
stable
string
stud

Humans are know in groups as:  mob, group, team, squad, army, click, ....

We have a whole system of dealing with collective nouns.

How do we distinguish between the behaviors of a team and the behaviors of a group?  Have you noticed that manager's refer to people that report to them as a team?  Regardless of the behaviors that the group may exhibit - rarely a team like behavior...  

I've always said just because we all wear the same color jersey doesn't mean we are a team.


Why testing in production works.





A video that cannot be unseen.  If you want to truly understand the difference between a unit test and integration tests.

Watch what happens when you write plenty of unit test - but skip the integration test.




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Vending Machine of Values & Principles

Have you seen the new automobile vending machines.  It appears we could put anything in a vending machine.  So what would you put into the vending machine?


Monday, May 22, 2017

Exploiting Variability: A Principle of Product Development Flow

What do these phrase have in common - what is their inherent consistent meaning?

  • Zero Defects
  • Take the time to do it Right
  • Repeatability and Reliability
  • Process Maturity Model
  • Measure twice, cut once
  • Six Sigma
  • Rework is Waste, Lean processes remove Waste

They are ironically consistent in their purpose to reduce variability.  Don Reinertsen will attempt to convince us that in the domain of product development (unlike other domains) variability may not be the enemy of good.  He will argue that it is the economic payoff-function of this outcome that is of upmost concern in design.

Voltaire's aphorism:  Perfect is the enemy of good.

I'm in a group at work that is reading books on Agile software development topics to what purpose... well to learn I hope.  After Lyssa's book on Coaching Agile Teams we turned the knob up to 11 with Don Reinertsen's Principles of Product Development Flow.  Since it's such a tough read, a dense book with so much knowledge, we have a divide and conquer mind set... we read a chapter and present it to the group (knowing that the group as an aggregate will not read the book).  So my chapter is #4, Exploiting Variability.  This is my plan... to add variability to the typical book report that a group of people might fall into the habit of performing - by adding variability to the format.
"We cannot add value without adding variability, but we can add variability without adding value." -- Don Reinertsen



Agile in 3 Minutes: #23 Vary by Amitai Schlair
...the conclusion "Projects by design and in effect magnify risks."

Ok let's play.  Did you know that play is rooted in variability? (Games and the Human)

"... however different their descriptions and interpretations of play, each rhetoric reveals a quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility. In light of this, Sutton-Smith suggests that play might provide a model of the variability that allows for “natural” selection. As a form of mental feedback, play might nullify the rigidity that sets in after successful adaption, thus reinforcing animal and human variability. Further, he shows how these discourses, despite their differences, might offer the components for a new social science of play."  
-- The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith

Fundamental to this discussion is the .... pardon the overuse of the phrase.... various types of domains that humans participate in.  We shall need to distinguish between the creative domains of design and innovation from other domains such as manufacture or agriculture.  In some domains the desire for variability is low, and in these endeavors humans have done well to reduce variance.  However in the more creative endeavors this tendency is harmful.  One doesn't wish for an artist to produce the exact same work of art repeatedly for 20 years.  Now that we agree upon that basic fundamental concept.  Do we agree that software development is a creative act?  If not - you should click on an exit link now...  because we have a fundamental disagreement and I will not be able to sustain the cognitive dissonance required for both of us to continue.

A challenge...  simulate to streams of flow ... one with variability and one without... 1, 2, 3, go....

Conteneo's Ideas into Action(tm) framework
[V1] Principle of Beneficial Variability: do not make the mistake of only paying attention to the probability of success (benefit).  "Paying attention to the payoff-function radically transforms our view of variability."

[V2] Principle of Asymmetric Payoffs:  not all payoffs are the same... we are searching for big payoffs.  In this search, we seek the complicated asymmetric function  (see the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics: Robert merton & Myron Scholes for Black-Scholes option pricing model).  In this realm live the venture capitalist - start to understand their principles and models.

[V3] Principle of Optimum Variability: It is only via the economic transformation of variability (Payoff Function) that we can judge the goodness of variability.  The notion that all variability is bad (therefore eliminate variability) is to totally misuse the concept.  If one cannot graph the payoff function - one doesn't understand the economies at work.

In the [V4] Principle of Optimum Failure Rate we find the distinction between exploratory testing which should be optimized to generate information and therefore will have high failure rates (close to 50% or you're not doing exploratory testing well).  Versus the design validation tests (strive for 100% success rate) where success looks like green bars.  Noting that most companies do a poor job of communicating their failures - and therefore repeat their failures, thereby produce no new information.  "Only new failures generate information."

There are two approaches to the economics of variability - change the amount of variability or change the economic consequences of that variability.

First attempts to reduce variability.

[V5] Principle of Variability Pooling: overall variation decreases when uncorrelated random tasks are combined.
[V6] Principle of Short-Term Forecasting:  forecasting becomes exponentially easier at short-term horizons.
[V7] Principle of Small Experiments:  many small experiments produce less variation than one big one.
[V8] Repetition Principle:  repetition reduces variation.
[V9] Reuse Principle:  reuse reduces variability.
[V10] Principle of Negative Covariance:  we can reduce variance by applying a counterbalancing effect.
[V11] Buffer Principle:  buffers trade money for variability reduction.

Time for you to participate - give me an example from your place of employment for each of those attempts to reduce variability - this should be easy.

Lastly attempts to reduce the economic consequences.

[V12] Principle of Variability Consequence:  reducing consequences is usually the best way to reduce the cost of variability.
[V13] Nonlinearity Principle:  operate in the linear range of system performance.
[V14] Principle of Variability Substitution:  substitute cheap variability for expensive variability.
[V15] Principle of Iteration Speed:  it is usually better to improve iteration speed than defect rate.
[V16] Principle of Variability Displacement:  move variability to the process stage where its cost is lowest.

Don concludes the chapter by stating: "Variability is not the enemy; it is a tool to create economic value."  Can you weird this powerful tool?


See Also:
Variation: The Root of All Process Evil -iSixSigma.com

Don't confuse Reinertsen's Product Development Flow with the more general psychological term Flow by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience." A discovery that revealed what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Lasso of Truth

Truth is a wonderful concept - but can we really know it?

I'm very excited about the 2017 release of a Wonder Woman movie.  Can't wait - it looks great, I always love the first in a series.  I like the character development, the WHY of the foundational aspects of the character.  From the preview it looks like we will see Princess Diana of Themyscira grow up and the reasons she finds her self in America.  Fascinating...

I learned a bit about the truth of the back story of the back story of ... well the history of the creator of the Wonder Woman myth in of all places... a training course on DiSC by Dr. Abelson.  [Queue the spooky dream sequence music.]

The inventor of the Wonder Woman myth is William Moulton Marston. Wonder Woman made her debut in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), scripted by Marston.  If you have one in the garage I'll buy it from you.  Apparently, Marston designed Wonder Woman as an allegory for the true leader; the kind of women who should run society.

"Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world."
Marston [6]

In the World War I years (1917),  [at that time they didn't use the ONE designation for some reason - guess they didn't plan on rev-ing the concept, how silly not to thing that humans would improve the concept of World War] Marston was interested in discovering physiological evidence of a person as they deceive - he's though of as one of the father's of the modern lie detector (Polygraph).  When he created his leader epitome, he gave her the power to discern truth via the Lasso of Truth.

Wonder Woman's physical appearance and her bullet bending bracelets were inspired by Olive Byrne, Marston's lover in an open relationship with he and his wife, Elisabeth.

Going back a bit deeper from the Wonder Woman idealized leader, Marston investigated normal people and their emotions. In the late 1920s he developed a theory of human behavior based upon two aspects, environment and reaction to the environment.  This theory produced the classic quadrant model and is known as the DISC Theory which was refined by in 1956 by Walter Clarke into the DISC assessment model.
"Marston viewed people behaving along two axes, with their attention being either passive or active; depending on the individual's perception of his or her environment as either favorable or antagonistic. By placing the axes at right angles, four quadrants form with each describing a behavioral pattern:
  • Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
  • Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
  • Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
  • Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.

Marston posited that there is a masculine notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent and an opposing feminine notion based on "Love Allure" that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority."
This DISC theory and model were never trademarked or copyrighted - therefor there are quite a few versions and instances of this tool.  Including wonderfully misleading FaceBook questionnaires that should be view with skepticism.  DISC practiced well by a practitioner can be a very useful tool for self discovery.
David is a "High D" - classic Developer profile
See Also:
Psychometric Assessments - a peek inside the person
Multiple Views of the Truth are Perceptions
The Life of the Mind: Hannah Arendt on Thinking vs. Knowing and the Crucial Difference Between Truth and Meaning Brain Pickings

Monday, April 24, 2017

Agile Movement's parallels to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

What parallels are there between Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the state of the Agile movement's union?

Lincoln was a primary figure at the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery, in Gettysburg. He did not wish to upstage the keynote speaker, Edward Everett, and so summarized in 2 minutes the principle of human equality as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Civil War.  Do you remember, the keynote speech?  Few people do.


Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
- - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln

I heard an NPR story about a person that give their grandkids twenty dollars to recite the Address.  It sounded like a wonderful way to engage kids in history and the founding reasons of the existence of this nation.  I'm assuming that it would take the children some time to memorize the short speech and in so doing they would have questions, about what the words meant.  How many of your colleagues know what unit of quantity a score represents?  Do you know what happened four-score and seven years before 1863?

The foundational document of this new nation is the Declaration of Independence - signed in the summer of 1776 by a group of wealth white men.  They are now described as our founding fathers, yet some were quite young at the time (Hamilton, 21; Jefferson, 33; Washington, 44).  These free thinking people (and some were women - they just didn't sign the document) were called radicals by their government and traders by their neighbors.


Does any of this sound like a fractal of the Agile Manifesto and the movement that was started back in the 1990s with lightweight frameworks for organizing software product creation.  The desire to increase the good aspects and there by overcome the poor habits (appreciative inquiry or extreme programming - is there a difference?).

Is there a revisionist movement some 15-20 years beyond the 2001 manifesto creation?  Yes, there appears to be a constant yearning for the next wave, the next wagon to hitch your cart onto.

Are there amendments that need to be added to the manifesto much like the Bill of Rights?  Or is that a fringe movement on the periphery?



Modern agile  defining four guiding principles:

  • Make people awesome
  • Make safety a prerequisite
  • Experiment and learn rapidly
  • Deliver value continuously

Alistair Cockburn observer his communication style in beginner and advanced classes, he said: "[I] found that when I was encouraging getting back to the center/heart/spirit of agile, I kept emphasizing these four things, and drew them in a diamond:"



Could the newest technique Mob Programming be anything more than an incremental addition to eXtreme Programming (XP)?  Some 30 years in the making.








I've found a next movement in the Agile Symphony. [Do you see what I just did there? Yeah, changed the metaphor but pivoted upon the term movement. Crafty right?]  I believe the next movement that so many people are looking for are just a jump to the left.  Look to the left of the typical process flow of value through the company, just left of what the current Agile process addresses (software development).  It's the creative process that is just up stream of software development.  The product ideation phase, the place where all those creative people are trying to get a seat at the table and be engaged with the software product design.  The User Interface and User eXperience people are wanting to engage with the whole process. Not just be consulted at the end of the process when the user acceptance test has proven that no one wants to use our product.

Could it be that the UX group is searching for a way to improve the development process?  Are they sensing the need to find a better process?  One that results in similar outcomes but with shorter timelines, a process that allows them to maximize the value in their portion of the stream.  I think this group is in the same place as the lightweight software development group was in the 1990s.  Before a few of them got together to coin the term Agile and write a manifesto to protect their small market share from the large 800 pound gorillas in the software consultancy market space.

Well the gorillas have exerted their power and the industry has consolidated into the safer methods that allow the late adopters to feel good about their failing transformations.  Your OK, and I'm OK; let's just call the whole thing off.  And that folks, is how we arrive back at the trend in business lifecycles becoming shorter, while innovation continues to accelerate.

So maybe this new movement in the symphony will allow me to come into their community.  I feel I have something to offer, I love learning, and building (which I think of as design).  I have a bit of experience with these new methods of designing and building and learning as we discover what the customer truly desire.  I'd like to help the creative people get that seat at the whole development table.

Maybe you could think of this period of software development as the reconstruction.

See Also:

Reshaping our View of Agile Transformation - Jason Little