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What does it mean to be Human Scaled?

When I think about the size of something I think in a frame of reference of a human being. Yeah, sounds funny, but I can think in other frames of reference but it is a weird trick I have to play in my mind to do that. Like switching the foreground and background in one of those pictures of the old and young ladies.

So what is the Human Scale? What's the smallest a person can typically see, something we see and really have a sense of the size of it? A grain of salt is about the smallest. That's about one-half mil-meter (10^-4 X 5m). And the largest, I say something like an oak tree 20 meters (10^1 X 2m).

Can I really get a sense of a Redwood Tree at 110 meters (10^2 X 1.1m) or the Eiffel Tower at 320 meters (10^2 X 3.2m)? I've been to Paris and standing near the tower there is no sense of how large it really is. Only from many blocks away do you feel like you can take it all in, but then you have only a vague idea of what makes the tower, the steel and bolts.

But how big is the solar system, and what's the size of our galaxy? Or what is the size of a electron shell in the carbon atom?

Well, I've found that there is a word for this 'human scale of perception' in this wonderful mind expanding TED talk by David Eagleman. The word is "umwelt" - the German word for the surrounding world.

Can we create new senses for humans?
Watch Eagleman's TED talk for a chance to expand your personal umwelt.  Technology will and does expand our umwelt - there are many people with low tech augmentations, eye glasses, hearing aids, walking canes; and these augmentations are getting much higher-tech... and the mind is very plastic and will accept many types of data - we just need to plug it in (PH model of Evolution).  Sensory substation has been happening since 1969.  Is the vibration of the cell phone in your pocket just a very simple signal of feeling the umwelt that someone is wanting your attention.  Would you like to expand this capability?

Here are two wonderful visualizations that help us change our human frame of reference and feel like we can imagine outside our small human scale of only 5 orders of magnitude.

Scale of Universe an interactive tool (flash)

"Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only as a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker - with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell."

Assume the 1 stands for one meter... what's the human scale?

Helen Czerski encourages us to play with toys to understand the physics in the middle (human scaled).

Physics doesn't just happen in a fancy lab -- it happens when you push a piece of buttered toast off the table or drop a couple of raisins in a fizzy drink or watch a coffee spill dry. Become a more interesting dinner guest as physicist Helen Czerski presents various concepts in physics you can become familiar with using everyday things found in your kitchen.

Are you Human - Ze Frank


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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

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What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.


Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?

Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

What belongs on the Task Board?

I wonder about these questions a lot - what types of task belong on the task board?  Does every task have to belong to a Story?  Are some tasks just too small?  Are some tasks too obvious?  Obviously some task are too larger, but when should it be decomposed?  How will we know a task is too large?

I answer these questions with a question.  What about a task board motivates us to get work done?  The answer is: T.A.S.K.S. to DONE!

Inherent in the acronym TASKS is the point of all tasks, to get to done.  That is the measure of if the task is the right size.  Does it motivate us to get the work done?  (see notes on Dan Pink's book: Drive - The surprising Truth about what motivates us) If we are forgetting to do some class of task then putting it on the board will help us remember.  If we think some small task is being done by someone else, then putting it on the board will validate that someone else is actually doing it.  If a task is obvious, then putting it on the board will take vi…

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.

In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.

Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    To Do
    Work In P…

Team Performance Model - by Drexler and Sibbet

Many of you have all heard of the Tuckman model of team dynamics (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).  It was created in 1966 and has become the most popular model for describing team behavior.  Is it time to level up in your mental model of team dynamics?  Are you ready for a richer more functional model?

Introducing the Team Performance Model by Drexler and Sibbet

Orientation - Why am I here?
"Orientation is about understanding the purpose of a team and assessing what it will mean to be a member.  you need to understand the reason the team exist, what will be expected of you and how you will benefit from membership.  In a new team, these are individual concerns, because the group is only potentially a team.  that is why these concerns are illustrated as occurring in your imagination at an intuitive level.  As a team leader it is important to provide time and space for people to answer these internal questions themselves."

Keys to when Orientation challenges are resolve…