November 23, 2009 Leave a comment
Monday morning is the time when our teams interact the most about projects and the coming week. I’ve decided to capture events typical of Monday to provide insight into our work developing products for clients. I’ll do my best to include everything warts and all even if that means sharing something I would not normally share. In support of full disclosure, I took sparse notes over a period of time and came back later to clean up the text and add commentary. Here goes nothing!
Our high-tech revolution has plunged us into a state of continuous partial attention.
iBrain by Gary Small, M.D. and Gigi Vorgan
- A typical Monday starts by pulling my canoe out into the various communication streams. Logging on to Skype is the watershed event.
- Skype is running. Firefox is open with tabs for email, calendar, several Google docs, WordPress for this post and YouTube for a side project I am working on.
- I check in with my lead on Skype. I have the same guy across a few of my projects. This certainly streamlines the communication. He’s in Costa Rica. When I worked at Adobe, we used IM all the time as people worked on different floors and at different locations.
- I am acting as the product owner for one project and I clarify something about a feature we are implementing.
- On another project, our client provides detailed specifications and we review the documents to make sure we are in sync. We are, which is good.
The new promise of collaboration is that with peer production we will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence more efficiently and effectively than anything we have witnessed previously.
WIKINOMICS by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
- Our newest client jumps on Skype to validate the release, our testing and the schedule. There is a lot to discuss so we move to a Skype call. He does a good job managing his business to create an active and valuable community.
- Another issue comes in about how a feature should work that requires some thought. I ignore chats and emails for the next 30 minutes and open specifications in Google docs and mock-ups in Preview. We clarify the issue.
- By late morning, the major communications have been completed. Projects are moving forward and our teams seem to understand what needs to happen this week. I am responsible for a couple of releases that are in full swing.
No matter how clever the idea or great the implementation, an invention typically lives or dies depending on how well it can be integrated into a larger social or technological context.
Juice by Evan I. Schwartz
- The marketing text for our Web site update is long overdue. Some tasks on the docket this week are for corporate business. But I decide to focus on that side project and YouTube.
- I started a project called ReachGivers.org to help charities and non-profits get their message out over the Internet. ReachGivers.org uses Ruby on Rails and has Twitter integration. I added a poor man’s blog a while back as well. This week I want to add video support. Side projects help me stay connected with technology.
Economics is above all a science of measurement. It comprises an extraordinarily powerful and flexible set of tools that can reliably assess a thicket of information to determine the effect of any one factor, or even the whole effect.
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Off to Starbucks for a Mocha and a blueberry scone. This happens so often that people know me by name there. The Ethos water billboard reminds me I wanted to blog about that on ReachGivers.org after finishing the video work.
- My brain stumbles on some concepts for the marketing text and I jot down some ideas.
- I was working on a product a while back and was not that impressed with the end user documentation. I sent a book proposal out to a technology book publisher, which turned into a series of titles, and I have been writing every since. I love it, I really do. I even enjoy working on marketing text and ads.
Execution is not a one-time event. Nor is it a process where you check off goals as if your sixth-grade teacher were looking over your shoulder.
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.
- Shorty before noon we get a curve ball. Mid-cycle, our client needs to shift direction on a project to change the prioritization and the release date. I’ll spend the next few days updating user stories and validating the new plan. Sometimes I feel like we’re actually better at hitting a curve ball.
- The Agile software process, which is intended for flexible development, actually advocates against this type of mid-cycle change. Release cycles are purposely shorter so that a direction shift simply influences the next cycle. For start-ups, next month can be years away. We have to be more flexible.
- A site we monitor generates an alert right before I can escape for lunch. I used to get a little rush on these mini-emergencies like working as an EMT. Now I am the ambulance driver who knows that most pick-ups are not at all like the show ER. Still, up-time is important and so we resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
- It occurs to me that this post demonstrates why people Tweet. Expressing myself effectively with 140 character didn’t work well for me. I decide to try it again because I am enjoying creating this running dialog.
- We’re trying to send large Photoshop files with mock-ups. Some days technology just seems to work against us. We’re hitting proxy issues and time out issues. Eventually we solve the problem and remind ourselves yet again we should standardize on an approach. Problem is, email and Skype are so convenient and work well enough most of the time. I guess this would be one of those warts.
Agile software development methods should be able to survive in an atmosphere of constant change and still emerge with success.
Agile Management for Software Engineering by David J. Anderson
- After 40 plus years of eating sandwiches, I still love a good sandwich. The best sandwich in town is from the deli in Vallergus and the people at the cash register all know me by sight.
- I never get back to the post after lunch. Clients and partners all eat at different times and issues were waiting for me when I got back. That is definitely a typical Monday.
- I didn’t finish the marketing text either. The text I came up with was not remarkable. I made some small updates to our corporate site instead and also finished my changes on ReachGivers.org. Perhaps I will think of something while winding down for the night.
- My iPhone sits by my bed. With several releases in play, there is always a chance a developer is still working and will fire off a question. Of course, I can’t just let the device sit there, now can I? I pull my canoe back out into the stream and see what else I might have missed during dinner.