Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cooperation is found at the top of an Escalator

Here's an interesting study - where are people at there best (as measured from a Dr Who perspective) at the top or bottom of the stairs?

Why Escalators Brings out the Best in People

A curious connection between altitude and goodness
David A. Schroeder  | March 29, 2011  Mind Matters, Scientific American


So this has me wondering if we could see the same results at the top of an elevator - I doubt it.  Therefore, I suggest you place your team room at the top of an escalator - to infuse the most cooperation within the team.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What's new with your User Experience?

I was sitting with some colleagues at the pub the other night, talking about one of my favorite subjects - Apple computer's highly innovate nature.  One person reflected that the one thing that made the iPhone successful was the touch screen.  That other devices had used a touch screen, but had not gotten in quite right.  Other devices that were using touch screens were clunky to use. He had apparently used several different devices with touch interfaces.  A benefit of the company he works for that has a loner program (want to try their software on a mobile device - borrow it for a few weeks).  I chatted with the person that runs the program, they have all the new toys and every week its like Christmas morning opening new packages.  What a brilliant program.

Yes, I'd have to agree that one of the keys to the iPhone's success is the new user experience it allows.  Along with the wonderful opportunity for people (mere babes) to use a computer with absolutely no instruction at all.  Countless people tell stories of their 2 and 3 year-olds using iPhones to navigate to their favorite applications.

I remember when Apple introduced the paradigm shifting mouse in 1984.  I taught a summer school program where 6th & 7th graders could learn to program (BASIC) with the Apple II Plus computer.  One half of the first day was teaching students to use the mouse.  The kids got it much quicker than the older teachers.  However I still spent hours teaching the user interface techniques of a mouse.  Can you imagine teaching someone the techniques of mousing?  Break it down - learn to point, to click, the timing of a double click, the advanced drag and drop.  With a touch interface this is needless.  We have been using a finger to point and touch since we've been 6 months old - it is natural.

I gave my mother a used first generation iPhone, no manual, no instructions, just sent it via mail in a box.  Now my Dad said she's just as bad as the young kids, constantly on the internet, reading, watching TV, multitasking and googling things in real time.  She's a Digital Immigrant.

My father never wanted to use a computer.  He said he would use one when he could just talk to it and it would type his reports and papers as well as his secretary.  Yes he worked back in the days when even middle managers had secretaries and typing pools. This didn't keep him from enrolling me into the 9th grade typing class.  I was one of only two boys in a 40 girl class for beginning typing.

My father foresaw the power of typing and of computers.  I was in typing class because he had so much stress working on his master's dissertation and computer classes he had to take in the 1970s.  In 1976 he was sure typing would be a skill I would need in life.  In 1979 he brought home an Apple II computer to see if it would interest my brother and me.  It did, I learned BASIC programming.  Then he bought the first personal computers (Apple II Plus) for students in the Stanley county school systems.

So learning new computer user interface has been in my family for years.  First user interface we learned, typing (1976), then mousing (1984), then touch interfaces (2007) with the iOS products, next....  voice.  My father's vision is happening.  My father-in-law uses Naunce's Naturally Speaking on the Mac to write proposals and email today.  My wife uses Naunce's Dragon in preference to typing. In the near future this may become the primary user interface.

This change in user interface will require changing your software application.  How close to the bleeding edge is your software application interface?  Are you planning for the future?  My family is willing to test it for you.  We are experts, including the 2 year old niece.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is Consciousness? A survey

Information is Beautiful is taking a survey on the inner workings of the mind.


What is Consciousness?

Click the link "Make up your own Mind" to take the interactive survey.  One to join the fun, two to see how good a survey tool could be with interactive graphics.

I'm revealing my inner truth.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Collaborative Place :: Context inside of Space

I am in search of collaborative place - the context of innovation that is embodied in the space we choose to inhabit. Having noticed how some people decorate their cubie with personal artifacts and the boundary that the artificial wall creates, I'd like to "tear down that wall."



I attempted to study the habits of people in transition from structured space to open space. I bought a time lapse camera with the intent of photographing the big picture patterns of movement. My vision was to mount the camera to a column in the space. Record the deconstruction of cubicles into the open space. Then watch the organization of Place, via the context of a Scrum work teams, within the space.

The people vetoed the idea. Lack of trust is the motive. They were uncomfortable with the organization having photographic proof that they were talking with each other rather than pressing keys on their keyboard. While I understand the feelings of the people, the organization should wake up to the impediment this points to. The sub-text is trust and a belief system that communication via face-to-face is less valuable. That a laugh is a sign of goofing off, as opposed to enjoyment of work/play.

See Also:
Bobtuse: Collaborative Place
Tour the d.building  Collaborative Space at Stanford Institute of Design

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What happens if the Tardis goes through the Phantom Tollboth?

I think the Doctor would be at home in the lands beyond.

"Pardon me," said Milo to the first man who happened by; "can you tell me where I am?"


"To be sure," said Canby; "you're on the Island of Conclusions. Make yourself at home. You're apt to be here for some time."

"But how did we get here?" asked Milo, who was still a bit puzzled by being there at all.

"You jumped, of course," explained Canby. "That's the way most everyone gets here. It's really quite simple: every time you decide something without having a good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not. It's such an easy trip to make that I've been here hundreds of times."

The Phantom Tollbooth
     by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer


Time Machine :: Human Camera :: Watson

Time Machine

I'm trying to restore my Apple Time Machine - after a hard disk upgrade my time machine backup has choked on the extra large data set.  It gets quite complicated but in the end, the machine can not reconcile that the new data is just a continuation of the old data and it should just piece it all together in one continuous flow of information.  At last the machine breaks down.  It can not see the forest for the trees.  It has no big picture overview of the scene.

This same day my father-in-law sends me this YouTube video of the "Human Camera"

Beautiful Minds: Stephen Wiltshire 



Watch the video and be awe struck at what a human mind can do. This is a power and skill we all have - but very few have ever nurtured this ability. Stephen can connect both the detail and the big picture and flow all that data into the information to recreate the image.  Many artist can do this same feat, they have practiced endless hours to master the skills.
Here's one that I went to school with:  Mark Stephenson Portraiture and Paintings.

Watson

Just recently IBM's Watson computer bested a human on Jeopardy (quiz show).  Take a look at Watson's technical specs - do you think you will have that kind of power in your pocket in 30 years?  In 1980 did you think you would have a cell phone and a search engine (Google) in your pocket (see Cell Phone time line) with video (FaceTime) calling?

The Meta Problem?

But why - oh why - do we still compare the human mind to a computer?  Compare what one of the best humans can do in their domain (Stephen Wiltshire) to what a computer can do in their domain (Watson).  Which is solving the harder problem?  Would Watson pass the Turing Test?  Can a human prove that it is not a machine - in other words does the subject have the power of patten matching at a high level - CAPTCHA?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The answer is YES. 8 reasons to buy an iPad for your team room.

Will you buy an iPad?  That was the question.


8 reasons to buy an iPad for your team room.

  1. Easy to carry to meeting (compared to laptop and power supply).
  2. Makes a person look smart compared to the person with the laptop, power supply, wired mouse, wired web cam that needs to get up and walk around the conference table to get a close-up shot of the white board.
  3. Apps that are designed to work instantly and quickly give the information you need without minutes of drill-down menu clicking and searching.
  4. Instant on (compared to opening a laptop that has its lid shut - because shutting the lid is a sign that you are present and paying attention to the meeting).
  5. Everybody else is doing it.
  6. Having fun is a goal for everyone (even your boss).
  7. Have a need - there is an App for that, 65000 of them.
  8. Facetime - video calls that just work.

Want to connect remote Agile teams?  I suggest you buy an iPad 2 for each team location.  Use it as the video conference system - cost $1000 (2 wifi iPads).  Benefit - instant easy access to the members of the other team via a shared video conference system that is portable, easy to setup, easy to use, gives high quality images.  And does more than just video - it becomes a communication tool. 

April 13th UPDATE:  I mentioned this to a colleague and he suggested that if one could link the FaceTime video on the iPad 2 with Apple TV via the AirPlay protocol then one would have an awesome video conference tool.  Imagine the easy of use with two remote locations using iPads with FaceTime chatting and the ability to put the remote video on the big screen (Apple TV large screen TV or projector).

I don't believe Apple has enabled this video sharing over AirPlay... yet.  But I've asked for it.

May 2012 - UPDATE:  Team Bazinga! at dis-located Scrum stand-up (Dallas & Poland) meet via iPad (unfortunately a Skype one sided video call) and PC.  Use of a very portable video camera is obviously in use.





Related Links:

Bashing the iPad - but will you purchase? Jan 2010

The Macalope Weekly: Say, this iPad thing may really take off

What competes with an iPad? 

What replaces co-location in Agile?

Agile tools for your iPhone/iPad

Long Distance Communication Timeline  it ends at FaceTime

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What does a good Product Owner need?

Why is it so challenging for a company to get the Scrum Product Owner role right?  It is a great job.  Lots of power to envision a market an deliver the product that makes a difference in that space.  Plenty of feedback and opportunity to learn by guiding a truly Agile team toward achieving the goals.

The responsibilities are few but require discipline and dedication to the vision of the product.  The key task is to prioritize (stack rank - not hi-low bucketing) the product backlog.  By doing this the product owner optimizes the return on investment for the project as a whole and within the enterprise ecosystem.
Steve Jobs on innovation. "It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much."
-- BusinessWeek Online, Oct. 12, 2004

I was reminded this week of why the committee of product owners will not work. I was working with a Steering Committee.  [Aside:  Is that term an oxymoron or what?  How many peoples hands do you want on your steering wheel?]  My challenge to them was that their primary role was to find the teams a Scrum Product Owner.  It was not to set the priorities of the various projects that the teams should work on - which is what they had met to accomplish.

A colleague mentioned the 1962 Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley's failed College of Coaches as an analogy. Having tried a baseball analogy and failed to make the point with this largely international group, I decided to search other domains for inspiration.

How about Apple - home of "insanely great" products - is there inspiration for the Scrum roll of the one Product Owner at Apple?  Why, yes - yes there is!

How many companies are envious of Apples ability to deliver great product to market, and even shape the new and emerging markets?  Answer: many - if not all.  Even Nokia is willing to burn their platform to create a reason to change to a new Windows 7 solution in hopes of holding onto market share.  While Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop has realized (perhaps too late) that the environment has changed.  Apple has created a whole ecosystem of simple products that are symbiotic (see eHub strategy - 2001).

While I enjoyed Elop's use of the burning platform metaphor - I don't think one should pour gasoline upon their own burning platform.  That sounds like a suicidal tendency.  Perhaps he intended to mix his metaphors.  I also enjoy a well mixed metaphor - shaken not stirred.

But back to the product owner roll.  Why has Steve Jobs been so successful and has Elop in a panic state?  I think it comes down to vision - purpose - acting to fulfill ones core values.  Steve Jobs has been doing this since he built and sold his first Apple computer kit.  He set out to change how people interact with computers.  The March 2, 2011 iPad 2 announcement indicates that he believes this is at least the 2nd time if not the Nth time Apple has delivered on the dream - "to make computers for the rest of us."  He refers to the iPad device as a post-PC device.  He knows the landscape has changed - he had a dream.

The human is the only creature on earth that is capable of imagining a future and then creating that future.  To do this we use one powerful ability - Imagination.  This is one of my personal values.  I believe this is an ability every great product owner must have.

See Also:  We Don't Hire Product Owners Here