Building Relationships

So much of life, even so much of software development, comes down to interaction with other people. And a big key (perhaps the big key) to this is building relationships. David Maister says some very interesting things on this topic–things that hit home with me. I’ve been meaning, for some time, to comment on an interview he gave on another site. While I’m waiting to get around to that, let me point you to this wonderful podcast (available in audio and video formats). Go watch it; I’ll wait. (Continued)


There’s been some discussion on the XP Yahoogroup about the practice of “blocking” in order to protect an Agile team in a non-agile corporation. I’d gotten rather behind in my reading, and came into the middle of the discussion. I’ve just now tracked this discussion back to a post by Scott Ambler, where he says,

This is a great example of something that I call blocking, where you produce the paperwork, attend the meetings, pretend to care, … to make it look as if you’re following the “official process”.

Scott is responding to a mention of the use of PERT on the Polaris submarine project. Scuttlebutt says that PERT was deemed a great success in managing the Polaris project, but in reality the PERT charts were reverse-engineered from more seat-of-the-pants management techniques. As the stories go, this “scientific” management technique wowed the Congressional oversight committees, and such techniques have been the backbone of government contracting oversight ever since. (Continued)

Lack of Information is not Information

Jerry Weinberg said this a couple days ago (and probably many times before that, but that’s when I heard it). Today, I have a story to illustrate this. I also have a puzzle to solve about how I may best avoid this same trap. (Continued)

A story about statistics

Ron Jeffries, when someone asks for data to “prove” that XP or some development practice works, is wont to say that the person they’re trying to convince may be asking for evidence, but it’s not likely that the evidence will convince them. (Continued)

The Case of the Recalcitrant Customer

Over on the ScrumDevelopment yahoo group, a ScrumMaster reported problems getting the Product Owner fully involved in the development process. Part of the problem is that the Product Owner isn’t co-located with the development team. The physical distance will certainly make participation more difficult, and less sure. That’s something to work on.

The Product Owner is not following the “rules” of Scrum, and this is frustrating the ScrumMaster. He’s likely right that playing the game by the rules will benefit everyone. He asks for advice on how to handle the situation. (Continued)

Oh, about that Notable Example…

In my post on Overcoming Resistance, I said, “I wanted to write an article with a shining example of a time when I didn’t try to overcome resistance, but used it to advantage, instead.”  Besides the Velvet Elvis principle that Don Gray describes, there’s another reason why one didn’t come to mind.

You see, actually listening to people doesn’t work in a big, noisy way like that.  Instead, it’s a quietly effective activity that doesn’t call attention to itself.

When was the last time you said, “Boy, I really listened to her, didn’t I!” Hmmm…  Doesn’t have the same verbal punch as “Boy, I really told her, didn’t I!”  It’s just more effective, that’s all.