Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:59:00 GMT)

Managing your Life the Agile Way in 2009

Posted by Sun, 28 Dec 2008 21:20:00 GMT

We’re just a few days away from 2009 and it’s that time when we all start looking back at the last year and set goals for the coming new year. I felt like sharing some of my thoughts on how I’m aiming to approach the new year.

Historically, I’ve never been a huge fan of New Years Resolutions because my attempts were always too big to successfully measure. The goals themselves weren’t poorly thought-out, it’s just that it’s really easy to make a list of personal targets, without putting a lot of emphasis on how you’re going to achieve them. The biggest trouble that I’ve had with goals is allocating enough mental energy for implementation planning. (if only I had someone to and wireframe my life…)

Due to this, New Years Resolutions haven’t been a huge success for me. I’ve found it much too easy to pass the buck onto the usual suspects, which consist of: lack of time, energy, too much work, general life changes, health, etc.

So, for 2009… I’m going to try something different by focusing on a set of best practices that I can use on a daily-basis. I suppose that my main goal is to not place too much emphasis on any specific targets and instead place the responsibility on myself to follow these best-practices and see what good (or bad) comes of it.

By rephrasing my internal conversation from, “What did I achieve this last year?” to “Am I doing things the best that I can?” I am confident that the answer will usually be, “not likely.” I do believe that through this subtle change in context, I’ll be better apt to self-evaluate how (and why) I am doing the things that I do and refactor accordingly. If we’re not consistently Refactoring ourselves (as we do with our code), we’re going to retain a lot inefficiencies in our personal and work lives, which make it difficult for us to quickly respond to changes and opportunities.

Our life (personal and work) is just another project that we manage. Much of methodologies that we spend learning about and adopting can easily be translated to these other areas of our lives.

So as I brace myself for 2009, I find myself asking, How can I lead a more Agile life?

I’d love to hear how you’re adopting best-practices inspired by Agile methodologies in your life and I promise to share mine over the coming year.

Related Posts

Tip: Save your users 15+ seconds of their day

Posted by Thu, 31 Jan 2008 18:42:00 GMT

Since understanding the context is so important when designing interfaces, I wanted to point out one of those things that caused me to shake my head at.

When logging into our Basecamp account this afternoon (via openid)... I was presented the following helpful notice.

know your user
Uploaded with plasq’s Skitch!

What’s amusing in this scenario… is that I’m sure that Basecamp knows that I’m logged in via openid and it is, in fact, displaying the OpenBar across the top of the page. Yet, it’s making this helpful recommendation that I’m obviously already aware of.

What harm is there? Well, in this scenario, I caught it and thought, “wow, this isn’t helpful or informative.” Over time, it’s these short-lived experiences that affect our overall perceptions of the product.

When we’re designing and developing applications, we must be very consistent with how we communicate with our audience. We don’t need to provide them information that isn’t relevant to them.

I’m not picking on Basecamp here, I’m sure that they have great intentions with this, but as a developer, I know that it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra work to avoid small problems like this, which could lead your people to feel like you’re not being respectful of their time.

Saving customers 15-30 seconds is something that we can quantify.

  • 100 customers = 25-50 minutes
  • 1,000 customers = ~4-8 hours
  • 10,000 customers = 40-80 hours
  • etc…

Just a little reminder that it’s easy for us to overlook things like that can make a difference.

Teams Need Healthy Collaboration

Posted by Wed, 18 Oct 2006 15:05:00 GMT

A few weeks ago, I was explaining some of the concepts behind Dialogue-Driven Development to Michael Buffington and when I said that we were working to create patterns of Dialogue... his immediate thoughts were on code. I don’t remember the exactly how he worded it.. but he basically thought we were working on a parsing tool for grabbing requirements out of emails, messages, etc. I quickly explained that d3 had nothing to do with actual code and was merely a practice that we as developers and consultants are using to think about our interaction with clients, users, and amongst ourselves.

Just last night, I was chatting with a friend of mine about d3… (names changed to protect the guilty)

context: Harry works in a development team1 of about ten people and Paul is one of his “team”mates.


  Harry: i guess it prevents discussion domination
   me: yeah, that happens as it is sometimes
  Harry: and ensures equal contribution
  Harry: paul does that 
    and he's not very polite about it either
    and will often raise his voice and speak over you
    which is crazy
    kindergarten stuff
  me: hah
  Harry: need a talking stick!

This happens all too often amongst ourselves. While we’re striving to improve our client interaction… we often overlook our own internal struggles to achieve healthy collaboration. It takes discipline by every individual in a collaborative environment to really think together.

So, how does d3 address this? Well, it’s our goal that through mindful dialogue, we can cultivate healthier collaboration in all of our professional (and personal) relationships.

I would also like to point out a few common misconceptions about d3.

Dialogue-Driven Development is about being in the conversation as it is happening… and really listening.

The next time that you’re getting ready to interact with your teammates, ask yourself:

  • Am I contributing something meaningful?
  • Am I listening to others well?
  • Is everybody contributing an equal share of information?

If you’re quiet, try to speak up more. If you talk too much, be mindful of how much you may dominate a conversation. If you’re not participating at all.. why are you there?

1 You’ll be happy to know that Harry also gave his two-weeks notice yesterday.