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March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Creative Chaos - II

A friend of mine once asked me how I come up with material for one-hour talks, and I gave him this answer:

"I start with three sentences. Then I imagine all the ways that those three sentences could be misunderstood, and I build up defenses and arguments against those misunderstandings. Once I'm done, I've got a 1000-word essay or an hour of material, take your pick."

So, in a previous post I said that heavyweight methods can stifle creativity. I suggested a creative, chaotic process, much like W. W. Royce does at the end of his paper "Managing the Development of Large Software Systems" - viewable here. (Ironically enough, it is the First Page of Royce's paper that is credited for inventing the concept of the waterfall model. That's a good place to start - but for goodness sake, don't stop there!)

I left out a bunch of assumptions, like your team is staffed with great people. If you don't have a team of experienced and good people, when you eliminate the binders and templates, the team won't know what to do. Inexperienced you can do something about; break the problem down into smaller chunks and give them guidance. With a team that isn't good ... Wow. Completely different problem.

Here's my take on great people: Great people are all methodologists with a lower-case "m." They have a wide and deep set of methods, and the good judgment and discernment to choose the right method to use in the moment - something that no capital-M methodologist sitting in an office 1,000 miles away is going to be able to do.

Although I've published an article or two on methodology, how I think about methodology is slowly changing. Written today, my "Methodology" would have an emphasis on hiring great people, developing talent and teamwork that I find completely absent from your typical big thick binder. Yes, with XP, Crystal, and a few of the Agile Methods, it's implied, but it is still rarely explicit.

Still, I know of at least one organization that manages this way:

Professional Baseball

They seem to do ok at it. hmm.

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