Bulletin 6 July 2018. On methodologies: not the weapon, but the hand

I’m all for methodologies. Of course, I would say that – I used to run a methodology group, I trained people in better software delivery and so on. From an early stage in my career however, I learned that it is not enough to follow any set of practices verbatim: sooner or later, edge cases or a changing world will cause you to come unstuck (as I did), or the approach will reach a best-before point, which goes a long way to explain why best practices seem to be in a repeated state of reinvention.

I was also lucky enough to have some fantastic mentors. Notably Barry McGibbon, who had written books about OO, and Robin Bloor, whose background was in data. Both taught me, in different ways, that all important lesson we can get from Monty Python’s Holy Grail: “It’s only a model.”

Models exist to provide a facade of simplicity, which can be an enormous boon in this complex, constantly changing age. At the same time however, they are not a thing in themselves; rather, they offer a representation. As such, it is important to understand where and when they are most suited, but also how they were created, because, quite simply, sometimes it may be quicker to create a new one than use something ill-suited for the job.

And so it is for approaches and methods, steps we work through to get a job done. Often they are right, sometimes less so. A while back, myself, Barry and others worked with Adam and Tim at DevelopmentProcess to devise a dashboard tool for developers. So many options existed, the thought of creating something generic seemed insurmountable…

… until the epiphany came, that is: while all processes require the same types of steps, their exact form, and how they were strung together, could vary. This was more than just a, “Aha! That’s how they look!” as it also puts the onus onto the process creator to decide which types of step are required, in which order. It therefore becomes important to understand both the steps and the reasons they exist.

With the above very much in mind (as I lifted it from my wrap-up), here’s an article from this week. 

Five questions for: Mike Burrows of AgendaShift

While I didn’t get actively involved in Mike’s collaborative book-writing process (for a number of reasons, not least, I’m not really a practitioner any more), I did observe the process and I think he is on to something. Hence this article. In another recent conversation, Tony Christensen, DevOps lead at RBS, said the company’s goal had become to create a learning organisation, rather then transforming into some nirvanic state. True Nirvana, in this context at least, is about understanding the mechanisms available, and having the wherewithal to choose between them.

Extra-curricular: Plucking Different plays Gogol Bordello

In case it wasn’t already apparent, I’ve become a bit obsessive about packing as much in as possible before my sorry body packs in underneath me. To whit, in this song at least I find myself fronting a ukulele band as we deliver a new take on the gypsy punk song. File under: I won’t wear that shirt in the hot sun again. Also file under: no, I didn’t expect to be doing that either. 

Thanks for reading, Jon

Bulletin 6 July 2018. On methodologies: not the weapon, but the hand

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