Archive for December, 2007

Theres Method in the Madness

I once read theres no such thing as no communication.  One might not respond to something, but that response itself is communicating something.  Every act, be it to frown, to say something, to close your eyes, or to say nothing, is communicating something at some level.  This is very important.

So consider this.  Process is a dirty word.  So you and your team dont do process.  This is fine, and not uncommon by any means in certain industries.  But theres not such thing as no process.  Every act employed to bring software together, be it feature definition, bug tracking, testing, quality assuring, how these are done and when, is process at some level.  This is very important.

I think it is important to be aware of this, because it opens up the landscape of possibility and choices in evolving the way a team works and improves over time.  Metaphor lost its importance in the later version of XP, but there are people that believe strongly in its use, myself included, see here.  With metaphor our mental vocabulary is enriched, and a deeper understanding of the world can result.  And choice arises from the deeper understanding gained from employing new mental models.  If the number of choices increase, then hopefully the ability to have the answer increases.

The problem I see with the no process approach, is that it immediately shuts down a world of choice that exists that is tried and tested, and seen to lead to more successful projects.  All of this is lost, replaced by ad-hoc bespoking by teams that dont do process.  There will be meetings to ensure no or little process is introduced, yet its all process.  And if its all process, is it not better to choose from those that have a pedigree of success behind them? To spend time manufacturing a new approach to requirements gathering is ok if you are a process expert.  If you’re not a process expert then such time should be spent doing other things where true value can be added.

If process is a dirty word for your team, realize this habitual mental model may be inhibiting the chances of greater success.  There is not such thing as no process.  So choose the process elements you want to re-invent carefully, and for the rest, employ tried and tested principles that have been perfected so that you can get down to the real work of delivering software.