Skip to main content

Case Study: Overloaders vs Slackers

Imagine two tribes, the first tribe is referred to by anthropologist as the Slackers.  The anthropologist refer to the other tribe as the Overloaders.  These anthropologist are a crafty bunch, they have devised various methods to study the tribes without the very observant members of the tribes realizing that they are the subjects of experiments.  In fact if we asked the astute tribal people if the anthropologist exist, the people would say no.  They would look at you funny and step away from you, giving you just a bit more personal space.  From the slightly safer distance the people may ask you, why would any tribe wish to have anthropologist.  What happiness could they bring to the tribe?



Never-the-less, we know the anthropologist exist because we, dear reader, are pan-dimensional super intelligent creatures that do not live confined to the bounds of this page.

These tribes collect berries of all types around their villages and transport these berries in handmade containers.  These containers require considerable time to create, people practice for many years to develop the skill to build these containers and only the best are decorated with symbols and given special (almost religious) significance in ceremonies.  The anthropologist have found discarded broken and dysfunctional containers and of course studies of the symbology have launched many PhD theses and careers.

One behavior the anthropologist have observed and studied is thought to be a fundamental cultural difference between the two tribes.  Members of one tribe will not carry baskets of berries without slack space in the basket for more berries.  It is observed to be rather an obsession of these people to adjust the slack space of each basket before they will pick up the basket and move it.  Considerable effort goes into the learning of how many berries of various types to place in containers and how much slack is required for which fruits.  This learning process takes years.  Yet the adults appear to quickly load and pickup baskets.

The other tribe has a unique practice of placing various types of berries into the baskets in such a way as to create a dome on the top that appears to be impractical to carry.  They will not move a basket until the stacking is precise, and take great care in adding the last few small berries to their baskets before lifting and gently but expertly balancing the containers and transporting to the village.  It has been observed that this tribe's children practice piling stones and rocks as young children in a game of learning to acquire the skills.

A compelling theory for the differentiation of these people into their tribes is the DNA differences found on five genes.  Peer review of this theory raises the age old issue of nature vs nurture.

Utilizing this fundamental cultural difference in the tribes behaviors the anthropologist have devised several experiments.  By surreptitiously planting berry bushes of various varieties in close proximity to each other and with measure distances from the two tribes villages, the anthropologist have created similar environments to study the efficacy of the tribes methods.

Now dear reader, predict which tribe has the most efficient method for berry transport.  Overloaders or Slackers - which is your projection of efficiency?  Please take into account the total quality of product delivered, for a crushed berry is wonderful in jam on toast but will stain a basket.

Did you have great reasons for your answer?  I'm sure you can sustain quite the debate with any opponent of your theory.

Does your theory matter - is efficiency the measure we wish to judge a society upon?  Perhaps we do... perhaps we have the veil of work pulled over our eyes.

Morpheus: “The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.Neo: What truth?Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

The Bushmen Who Had the Whole Work-Life Thing Figured Out - NY Times article by James Suzman.
The possibility that our hunter-gatherer ancestors might not endure an unremitting struggle against the elements first came to public attention in the 1966. It followed a series of studies conducted by a Canadian anthropologist, Richard Borshay Lee, among the Ju/’hoansi “bushmen” of the northeast of southern Africa’s Kalahari. He was surprised to learn that Ju/’hoansi spent only 15 hours a week securing their nutritional requirements. Given that in 1966 the 40-hour week had only recently been introduced for federal workers in the United States, these figures appeared extraordinary. It was on the basis of this, that Ju/hoansi and other similar hunting and gathering people came to be referred to as “the original affluent society.”
Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

David's notes on "Drive"

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

Amazon book order
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.

Introduction

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: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. 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, …

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…

Refactoring - examples from the book

Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?

The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder …