Should it really take that long?

In my previous post, Working Hard, or Hardly Working?, I mentioned how it was possible to tell the wheat from the chaff by observing.  Alistair Cockburn rightly suggested that the manner of observing that I suggested was more appropriate for a team leader than for upper management.  Yes, he’s quite right about that.  He had in mind a Vice President who, when told that the development team had estimated something would take two weeks, asked him,

How can I tell if it really should take that long, or they’re just padding to make their life easier?

How would you answer that question? (Continued)

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

I first heard this joke way back when, at my first real job–I was a TV repairman when I was 14.  It may generate a polite chuckle when asked between peers, but it’s serious business when the boss asks the worker.  It’s also been a topic of conversation over on the Scrumdevelopment yahoogroup, where Graeme Matthew described the difficulty of determining this using velocity.

The unknown in all of this is that if a team have a velocity of 6 how do you tell if they should have a velocity of 8 i.e. they are underperforming. It gets complex. If they have a velocity of 16 are they doing well or have they estimated at the higher scale of story points.

I agree with Graeme that this is one of the difficulties with using velocity to measure performance.  I agree with Alistair Cockburn when he says

There is NO good measure of “programmer productivity”.

earlier in the same thread.  Yet when you work with people, you generally know who’s working hard and who isn’t.  It’s an interesting conundrum, isn’t it? (Continued)

More on Agile Usability

I recently wrote about Agile Usability.  Now I find an article on StickyMinds, “Getting Agile With User-Centered Design,” by Jon Dickinson and Darius Kumana.  They talk about a number of issues that can come up.  My favorite bit is this:

We must actively challenge the mindset of divided responsibility–” You spec and design it; we’ll build what you spec.” Everyone should work toward the shared vision of a successful experience.

That says so elegantly what I tried to say in my article.

AYE 2008 – The Magic Chemistry of Teams

Wednesday afternoon, at the AYE Conference, I greatly enjoyed Esther Derby’s session, Magic Team Chemistry: Starting and Sustaining Teams.  We divided up into small groups, and each person drew a timeline of their career, marking high points and low points.   We then mined these timelines looking for the characteristics of the good times and the low points.  Each group built a list, but there were lots of similarities.

Cherrypicking from some of these lists: (Continued)