Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

Hug Your Designer Day, part 2

Posted by Wed, 23 May 2007 21:04:00 GMT

In an effort to increase awareness of the importance of good Interaction and Interface Design in Web Development… I suggested that today be... Hug Your Designer Day.

Designers Versus Developers

Are you seeing a lot of this in your Design and Development teams?

Allison Beckwith, Experience Director and Graeme Nelson, Lead Architect

Happy Designers and Happy Developers

Well, maybe it’s time that your developers gave your designers a hug…

Alain Bloch, Web Developer and Chris Griffin, User Interface Designer

Also… to celebrate Hug Your Designer Day, Amy Hoy was kind enough to post her slides and some audio that I recorded of her talk at RailsConf 07.

Let’s all take a moment to thank the designers who put the experience of the users first. The success of our projects rely on everyone working together. Hug Your Designer! (they might hug back…)

Dialogue versus Debate

Posted by Tue, 10 Oct 2006 04:40:00 GMT

How many times have you participated in a conversation with someone and realized that you really didn’t understand what they had said. Or… perhaps you’ve been talking and even though the other person is nodding, you’re not confident that they’ve really heard what you’ve been saying. Yet, you might find yourself nodding in agreement when they speak… and walk away… totally clueless about what you just talked about.

Were you really listening? Were they speaking over your head? Were you speaking over their head? Perhaps you were distracted? Whatever the reason… it’s probably worth thinking about. We all do it from time to time.

Even worse, you were only thinking about how they were wrong and you had the right answer already in your head…

In Dialogue, there are rules for participation, which we’ll explore in future writings.

One might wonder if we’ve been trained to work this way. In school, we had classes that taught us to debate one another… further cultivating a society focused on you versus I. But, what about the community? What about the team? What about us? Sadly, most of the teamwork that we saw encouraged was in the form of sports. To be fair… we did have debate teams… but the purpose was to argue for one side of an argument… not to find a way for both sides to work together. One might wonder our society would be like if we encouraged Dialogue in the same way.

Perhaps we need Dialogue teams. ;-)

Dialogue allows teams of people to work together. It’s a process that cultivates learning and discovery. Dialogue is not a process that encourages the passing of judgement or pushing for specific outcomes… the aim is to share understanding. Through empathetic listening and questioning, the seeds of trust are planted.

Dialogue-Driven Development is about building trust.

I came across this great table, which contrasts Dialogue and Debate. It’s worth taking a few moments to review.

Here are a few that caught my attention…

Dialogue Debate
Dialogue is collaborative: the sides work together. Debate is a type of fight: two sides oppose each other to prove each other wrong.
In a dialogue the goals are finding common ideas and new ideas. In a debate the goals is winning with your own ideas.
In a dialogue you contribute your best ideas to be improved upon. In a debate you contribute your ideas and defend them against challenges.
In a dialogue you listen to each other to understand and build agreement. In a debate you listen to each other to find flaws and disagree.
In a dialogue you may consider new ideas and even change your mind completely. In a debate you do not admit you are considering new ideas and you must not change your mind, or you lose.
Dialogue encourages you to evaluate yourself. Debate encourages you to criticize others.
Dialogue promotes open-mindedness, including an openness to being wrong. Debate creates a close-minded attitude, a determination to be right.

There is something to be said about the art of Dialogue, which is why we’re so excited about the d3 project.

The Daily Stand Up, part 2

Posted by Mon, 29 May 2006 15:11:00 GMT

4 comments Latest by Reagan Wed, 31 May 2006 03:29:40 GMT

In a previous post, I outlined how the PLANET ARGON team handles their communication of day-to-day work with the daily stand-up. Several people posted comments about similar processes and some suggestions were made to keep them from getting too stagnant. I wanted to highlight a few of those comments.

Aslak Hellesoy suggests, “Use a token – a rubber ball or something – for each person giving status. Only the person holding the token is allowed to talk.”
Florian Weber said, “Everybody standing up makes meetings go faster and more focus…”

However, not everybody is convinced…

Doug said, “I hate meetings, why on Earth would you punish your employees on a daily basis?”

Perhaps Doug has worked in environments that encourage too many bad meetings. A client recently said, “meetings are expensive” when we agreed to not have too many meetings throughout the project. Less meetings that are well-focused are much more valuable and productive. :-)

The one that caught my attention was the comment made by Aslak Hellesoy… he goes on to say, _“When a speaker is done, throw the token to a random person instead of just handing it to the left or right. This forces everyone to stay more alert, as noone knows who’s next.”

This got me thinking about how we had made it a ritual to stand in similar positions and I would start off the meeting. The team wasn’t too keen on throwing a ball around the room as we often hold coffee in our hand… so I came up with the following solution…. which reunites us with our little friends, the index cards!

Randomizing Daily Standup Meetings

Basically, all I did was take a stack of index cards and write a number on each one. Then at 9:15am PST, we all walk into the meeting room and take one. Whoever got #1 goes first and we work our way up from there. We’ve done this three times so far and most of the team seems cool with it. I’ll keep you posted as we solidify our approach to The Daily Stand-up.

...and of course… this comment also reaffirmed our decisions to do daily stand-ups…

Kevin Rutherford said, “Cool. And by “inventing” the idea yourselves, I guess you have much greater buy-in too?”

Related Posts

The Daily Stand Up

Posted by Tue, 23 May 2006 03:57:00 GMT

12 comments Latest by Scott Berkun Tue, 22 Aug 2006 02:17:19 GMT

I’ll admit it. I’ve never read a book that outlines that SCRUM process in detail but do have a copy of The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. In chapter ten, Berkun points out the purpose of having meetings as well as the annoyances that surround them. Over the past six months, we have toyed around with a few different approaches to holding meetings. There was a short period of time where we really weren’t sure what the best way to get company-wide information to everyone without boring them to death once a month or week.

A few months ago we tried something totally crazy… daily meetings! It caught on rather well.

There is one rule though, nobody can sit down. :-)

We hold a meeting every day at the same time and do not make any exceptions. Well, I will admit that we’ve missed two or three in the past several months but overall, we’re very good at keeping to the schedule.

So, how does this process work?

Each morning, I spend about 15 minutes preparing for a 10 minute meeting… which also is how I build my list for the day. This list appears on an index card as I keep it with me throughout the whole day. I also keep the previous and next days card with me so that I can make sure that things that didn’t get done yesterday get done today or tomorrow. Some of these tasks end up on BaseCamp or just get checked off as I complete the task.

Each morning at 9:15 AM PST (now you know where we are when we aren’t working or on IRC), we meet in our conference room and stand in something that looks similar to a circle. I wait until everybody finds their way into the conference room and then say, “Good morning!” I then do go over the following things (and use my index cards to keep me on topic)...

  • What did I do yesterday (or Friday/weekend)?
  • What will I do today?

Then the person who decided to stand next to me follows and we do this around the room… I think the order this morning was:

  • Robby
  • Jeremy
  • Brian
  • Jason
  • David
  • Allison

This is a good time to also bring up any thing that might be useful for everyone to hear… such as, “we got a new development contract signed yesterday!” or “client x will be on-site at 1:30 PM.” Along with this, we’re able to ask questions about other peoples work and act as a sanity check. Why the stand up? Nobody likes to just stand around for too long… when you stand up you avoid getting too comfortable and people are more likely to stay on topic and focused.

The meetings typically last 10-15 minutes and if you’re not doing something like this with your team… how do you cope on a daily basis?