Archive for May, 2010

Iterative evolution

May 28th, 2010 2 comments

Isn’t it great when you stumble upon something, whatever, that makes you think, really think?! And then sometimes, that wonderful stumble triggers you to rethink things you thought you already knew, things you took for granted. Ah, that’s indeed a wonderful process.

It just happened to me. This time it was two very interesting articles that got me thinking about the Agile idea of iterative delivery.

Step by stepPhoto Credit: extranoise


The way of delivering anything these days is arguably to do it in steps, adjusting as you go, depending on the feedback and the changing requirements. Yes, yes, yes, I know; far from everyone agrees with that statement. Hence “arguably”. (I’m not going further this time. Go google – or bing if you will – delivery waterfall agile if you want to dig deeper into that subject. And bring a sturdy spade.)

Having lived with a term like “iterative delivery” for about a decade now, believing to have a rather firm grip around its meaning, I find it interesting – and refreshing – to find it challenged twice in a couple of days, after reading two excellent articles sort of on the subject.

Iterative delivery

A common way of looking at iterative/evolutionary product delivery is: Release and fail fast, acknowledge missing features, embrace change and continuously add and improve all the way to the “final” (great) product.

Banana skins

My two challenges, or pitfalls, for today concerns:

  • The acknowledgement of missing features
  • The failing fast

The acknowledgement of missing features

There is a very interesting article by John Gruber, about “how Apple rolls“, showing how Apple consistently release their products small, and then improving on them, slowly, bit by bit. Of course that’s what they’re doing. I just haven’t seen it like that before. Apple is doing iterative delivery. They just don’t advertise it as they go. They never focus on the missing parts. Every product is a flagship that will, and most often does, revolutionize the industry.

Before I go on and you accuse me of comparing Apple and orange: When we talk about Agile software development principles, the acknowledgement of missing features is commonly communicated within the team, including stakeholders/customers. What Apple is doing is marketing externally to the end users of the product. That’s a different ball game, but nevertheless I think there’s an important lesson to be learned here:

One of the great benefits of the Agile way of thinking is that it fosters a humility towards failure and change. However, too much of a good thing may do you harm. When you insist on putting up a sign on the front page telling the users this is not a complete product, when you refuse to remove that Beta tag, you start making excuses, effectively demoting your product. You don’t have to speak Apple, but be careful. Don’t be too humble.

Fail fast

The same goes for the mantra “fail fast”. It’s a great guiding principle, but be careful communicating it to people without the same level of understanding and knowledge about Agile and XP. They might just perceive it as a careless approach to their product, their time and money.

But pretty please with sugar on top; it’s such a catchy phrase, with its short allegorical allure! Yes, but it does front a dangerous word when it comes to the customer’s children: Fail!

It’s not just linguistics though. Fail fast is a concept that demands and deserves proper presentation. It lives dangerously close to the world of lazy or lacking preparations. (Which, by the way, is not a good starting point if you have any ambitions.)

There have been times that I’ve felt this need for careful wording trying to convert waterfalling customers, but after reading this rather energetic confrontation with the mantra from a VC’s standpoint, it really made its way to the frontal lobes. Again, all I’m saying is: Be careful.

Do your homework

Be careful you say? How? The way to avoid these pitfalls is – in my humble opinion – to be sure to communicate, to eat, live and breathe responsibility and thorough groundwork. From there you can go pretty much wherever you like…


May 20th, 2010 No comments

You have a blog, you have tons of ideas, you know how write, you want to write, you want to share and interact and most of all; you want to learn, to grow! …so, what’s stopping you?

Of course there can be lots of reasons, but a common one is fear!


Here we go again (and probably not for the last time)

Why blog?

One of the reasons to write a blog is to write down what’s on your mind, to provide an outlet for your mind. But if it was only that, you wouldn’t have to publish it, right?! So, another neat thing about a blog is that people can actually read your works of art.

So, why don’t you then?

That last thing; that your writings is actually out there, in the open; that my friends, is the scary part. That’s what makes people afraid of putting pen to paper (or finger to key if you will). Out of fear of making a fool out of yourself – one of mans biggest fears in life – you wait and you wait and you wait for that perfect idea to come along for you to write about. And then you will probably wait some more for a divine outline and a heavenly disposition to come to you in your sleep. In your dreams.

Guilty as charged!

Sentenced but not jailed. Partly because I got an easy sentence – this is, after all, my 12th blog entry (in only 3,5 years) – but primarily because you don’t actually get jail time for not blogging. So, here I am; free to change; to try again. And again. And again. Failing, adjusting, retrying…

That is, instead of thinking about how to make it perfect, just do it. Really, what’s the worst that can happen?

An example

Last post I told you to stay tuned for my intentions “to try to map out an understanding of how to be great at something and have fun while you’re doing it“. That was, in my humble opinion, rather well put. Yes, I need to tighten it up a bit, but that is my intention for the not so distant future. However; having written that I suddenly felt the pressure to do just that, to do it really well from the beginning, and not “polluting” my blog with anything not answering to that mission statement.

A solution came to mind: I should start a new blog devoted to that statement. Of course, I would then need an appropriate (and smashing (and available)) domain name, the right theme and a …yes, you see where this is heading, right?!…

Don’t get me wrong though; Those are all excellent ideas. I will do all that.

Branding, marketing, designing your blog is essential to really reach out, but that’s not where to start. Start by creating (great) content. A blog is nothing without content, however shiny.

New game plan

In due time, I might spawn a new blog and start putting more effort into branding and focusing, on polishing my professional writing, but for now I’m just going to make a fool out of myself (more often)! Starting… NOW! …or rather 527 words ago…