Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stop Being a Cave Dweller

In Whispers and Cries Mark Bernstein discusses the dangers of misinformation and how blindly accepting information--the unwillingness to challenge the status quo leads to problems. I share my experience with misinformation in Feature-Based Development: The Lasagne and the Linguini when I explored statements made by Bertrand Meyer on user stories and Agile practices. Because of that exploration I corrected an error in my thinking on Scrum.

The insight Mark provides is to build a better network for your questions and to allow yourself to make mistakes. He points out that most software developers work in caves or enclaves. Those in caves use the tools and techniques they already know and only acquire new knowledge as required by circumstance. Those in enclaves use commonly accepted practices within those enclaves and that wisdom-formation in enclaves is often erratic.

What prompted Mark's article appears to be a discussion in The Dangers of Misinformation. There is advice in that article on how to share information and avoid spreading misinformation.

The situation in Mark's article and the one he references both identify a form of bias. Misinformation, when accepted by an enclave or by large numbers of people is a form of social proof. I suspect that those of us working in caves suffer from social loafing.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What Can You Put in a Refrigerator?

I wanted to call attention to What Can You Put in a Refrigerator? a blog post by James Hague. If you have struggled with the notion of audience for a specification James' post on specifying refrigerator content does an great job of drawing out this challenge. The article is great for both its humour and the point it makes.

I'm not sure I'd let James near my fridge...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Product Backlogs: Not Just Stories!

In "Feature-Based Development: The Lasagne and the Linguini", Bertrand Meyer raises the spectre of multiplicative complexity and the failure of the user story to address this complexity. In Meyer's view a user story is too simple to manage requirements except for certain types of systems. User stories become unwieldy if there are feature-based interactions to manage.

The Scrum Guide describes the Product Backlog as providing a single list of requirements for a product. The Product Backlog lists all features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and fixes that constitute the changes to be made to the product in future releases. Backlog items have a description, order, estimate and value.

The Product Backlog doesn't require stories explicitly and acknowledge the existence of other types of requirements. Meyer's book goes on to mention that user stories are the preferred method for expressing requirements within Agile methods. It's obvious how Meyer's arrived that this conclusion for XP but how could he possibly include Scrum in his assessment?