Archive for August, 2005

Act your way into feeling (better)

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

The incrementally improved Balancing Act workshop has been accepted for xp day germany. It’s quite likely that it’s also going to run at xp days benelux, as it got a top rating after the first round of reviews.

While reading getting things done I came across this quote, which aptly summarizes the workshop experience:

It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling, than to feel yourself into a better way of action. – O.H. Mowrer

It’s no coincidence.

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

The thing I like about the internet, is that it easily cures me from believing to be original. Through Nynke Fokma and Lynne Azpeitia I got this link to

What business can learn from open source and blogging by Paul Graham. I am resonating a lot on this one.

So these, I think, are the three big lessons open source and blogging have to teach business: (1) that people work harder on stuff they like, (2) that the standard office environment is very unproductive, and (3) that bottom-up often works better than top-down.

Ever since reading The Timeless Way of Building, I’ve been looking at many office environments with bewilderment. Usually, they’re not the right place to be creative. Even with all the values and practices of agile software development that can make it more predictable, It takes time to play and reflect to arrive at truly simple solutions. If I want to solve something, or ever write,

I’m usually better off going into the garden for a bit. How many offices do you know that have gardens?

At the end of the piece Paul Graham goes into startup culture (as most startups start out of home). When people ask me what it is like to run your own company, like I do, I usually say (with a smile) ‘don’t try this at home, kids’. But, as Paul Graham writes:

And as the example of open source and blogging suggests, you’ll enjoy it more, even if you fail. You’ll be working on your own thing, instead of going to some office and doing what you’re told. There may be more pain in your own company, but it won’t hurt as much.

I had some pain, it does hurt, but not as much. I ‘ve met people who paid far more ‘learning money’ than I did (so far). If something goes wrong, I’ve got only myself to blame, I can learn, and try again. Recently I find, that I am finding more and more the work I excel at and enjoy. As Lynne says: ‘live the life you imagine’.

I believe that the growing popularity of blogging, open source, wikipedia, Dilbert, agile (software development) and starting your own company is no coincidence. People are looking for better ways to live and work, and many are no longer waiting, like children, for their employer to make this happen.

Do I believe it is possible to achieve this inside companies as well? Yes, if you manage to change slowly, work with proven results, and keep playing the ‘professional’ games necessary to keep you in step with the rest of the company. Many agile teams enjoy more fun and productivity, and other ways of working and more respectful interactions are spreading. For most of us, it’s probably easier to try other ways on our own, or within the confines of a team (but watch out for being too succesful ;-) .

Some businesses can change from the inside, many business can change only if there is sufficient outside (e.g. market) pressure. Many more change into non-existance, because they are outcompeted. It’s no coincidence.

What’s going on?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

With me in this case. The world is also interesting, with many things going on on the energy front at the moment.I just arrived home from the pair programming party in Mechelen. I worked with Pascal van Cauwenberghe on our new project ‘hourensou’ (Japanese for spinach, and for a practice from the Toyota way). We’re building hourensou to help us level out the load for the various events we organize.

The amount of ‘stuff’ we have to do is getting to the level that some pragmatic automation will save us time. We’ve got about six people signed up to help already, as this will also be a fun exercise in making a ruby on rails application.

We also talked a bit about blogging. Pascal suggested making small deadlines for yourself and finishing ‘whatever’ within that deadline. So that is what I did, I made up most of this blog entry (and some more) while I drove back.

Agile Alliance election results

I was eligible as member for the agile alliance board, and I didn’t get elected. A friend asked me about the election results today, apparently they haven’t been made public or sent to the members yet.

Looking at the list of board members on the agile alliance website it hasn’t been updated for at least a year, so I’ll break the news then, this is what Rachel Davies mailed me:

The people who were elected this year are:
Mike Cohn, Rachel Davies, Jutta Eckstein, Ron Jeffries, Ole Jepson, Brian Marick, Angela Martin, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock.

I congratulate the new board, and wish them a lot of fun in a year where the alliance continuously delivers value.