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Showing posts from March, 2011

Rich Communication in Real Life

The agile community is full of people who say things like "communication must be as rich as possible," by which they mean, "in person, simultaneously in time, and proceeding from high level to detail."  Not content with this message, our community members often go the extra mile to say things like "there's no point in expecting good communication to occur otherwise. [heavy sigh]"

This leads to some seriously bad things happening when agilists attempt to communicate with each other in the environments in which they are normally employed.REALITY CHECK:  how many of these are true where you are working today:
Your project members are distributed over multiple timezones (not to mention countries, cities, buildings, hallways, and or "cube bays")Your communication platform is horrible.  You aren't allowed to use Skype (security risk!), you don't have any video access to anyone anywhere (next year's budget!), and even your conference ph…


Do you remember the Saturday morning TV "Shazam/Isis Power Hour"?  Among the many wonders this show offered was young Billy Batson driving all over the US in a big recreational vehicle with his mentor, Mentor.  Despite Mentor's presence, the two of them somehow continually got into difficult situations which prompted Billy to shout "Shazam!" and transform into Captain Marvel in order to save the day.  I always think of "Shazam!" when mentoring comes up in conversation, and I can't help but get a momentary image of Mentor behind the wheel of the RV, eyes twinkling, but looking somewhat deranged.

Mentoring is a tricky business, and it is not for the faint of heart.  Superficially, it's quite straightforward.  You, the wise and senior person, make yourself available to Billy, a person of hidden talents and perhaps flowing brown hair, but nonetheless something of a punk, and give him sage advice in his times of need.  He is grateful and respectful…