Clues! Signals

Clues! Signals!

Below is the result of a collaboration with John Cutler. He posted a document on Google Docs, and I liked the outline so much I felt compelled to post my thoughts In fact, it was surreal adding my contents to the Google docs and John coincidentally showed up on line, at the same time and was approving my contribution as I was writing it!  I had to write fast to stay ahead of him. I wrote the top level part of the outline, making it easy to think about that topic and what can and often does go wrong.   It was such an interesting collaboration, unscripted, accidental, and fun.  We had talked about making a short video, teasing out a few of the more interesting ones and talking about them, but the new father has plenty of other more important work.  In  fact, the collaboration was so easy, it turns out making a decent outline in WordPress is … Continue reading

One Throw-Away Product – Or Refactoring

I have been speaking at many PMI chapter events in North Carolina this year. I enjoy doing these events, meeting new people, discussing different and new things, and sometimes, being introduced to cool old things.  One such event was the PMI Asheville Chapter where I met some really interesting people including Eric W.

Mythical Man Month



Eric is a software person, he writes code and in our conversation at the meeting (the topic was risk and risk management) it became clear he is also one of those that have been around software development for years. Shortly after that meeting I received a package via amazon from Eric W, the book, The Mythical Man Month.  This book is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is it was written by a North Carolinian, or at least a professor at North Carolina University.

This is an old book, from the 1970’s and I am sorry … Continue reading

Off Topic – A note to a son.

You are in college now, and you see people that are likely smart as far as youth will provide.  Everybody can have strong “opinions” and perhaps their track record in high school has been one of success after success or being the person known to be knowledgeable – as far as high school topics go.  University work is much different as I am sure you know.

I have been ruminating about engineers and what I think makes a good one. It is not the know it all’s – and many people besides engineers fall into that category (have this malady). People are so certain of what they know to be true, but is likely not at all true, or only true for a very finite or specific situation.  Engineering is as much about creativity as science.  It is about devising experiments for those situations in which it is not so easy to understand or calculate due to complexity, or wide … Continue reading

There is More than One Way

I am writing this post after a discussion with some people on product development and project management processes.  The discussion took a turn to process intensive approach or not to use a defined process.  There are many ideas of how this can work, for example the Capability Maturity Model Integration is an example of the technical or knowledge areas and levels of associated processes.  This document describes the many processes and individual capabilities from each process area, for example, requirements management contains a number of specific goals with a number of specific practices.  I was reminded in this discussion, of a time when I was developing and documenting the processes for a department.  For each activity, we had an objective.  There was a reason for the activity and if the reason was not valuable, then that task was eliminated from the workflow. That seldom happened.  However, there were some steps in the work that were fairly common and we … Continue reading

Time Boxing

Time boxed or time boxing is when we have a hard fixed time around the activity we are undertaking.  For example, we may decide that our team is allowed a fixed amount of time to plan or estimate.  A meeting has a fixed duration and done effectively an agenda that further breaks down the time into smaller increments directed at producing the results expected from the meeting. 

Time boxing puts pressure to answer the questions or address the topics under consideration quickly and effectively.  To paraphrase George S. Patton, A good plan quickly executed now is better than a perfect pan executed next week[1].  The term time boxing or “timebox methodology” for their iterative development is from Scott Shulz at Dupont[2].  In this historical context, time boxing referred to the development iteration envelope.  That is the time available for the developers to produce an instantiation of the product.  In the case of Scrum, that time is … Continue reading

Agile and Synchronized Work

Simultaneous work and an Agile Approach

There are ways to divide the work up using an agile approach.  This can get complicated for distributed teams but for teams that are on the same site the challenge is greatly reduced.

We once worked on an embedded development project for an electronic control unit on a vehicle. Actually, we have done that on numerous occasions,  however, this was an instance we did things radically different. 

The Product

This project required specifications be written that described the specific system interactions of this electronic control unit and the others on the vehicle.  There are many embedded components on the vehicle all connected together through a number of serial data links.   The product was complex and configurable for many applications.  The specifications defined the expected systems interactions, failure modes (possible system failures and expected responses) as well as fall back modes if the product had an internal failure as well as parameter driven configuration settings. … Continue reading

What Makes Sense in Scrum Projects

Joe Dager’s Business901 podcast with Jon M. Quigley

What Makes Sense in Scrum Projects

Scrum Projects and Agile applications beyond software and scrum of scrums.


Projects and Distractions

Cell phones and Laptops, Tools – or the Distraction to Success

Ever think your not getting the most out of your team due to distraction.  The greatest invention perhaps is the smart phone.  Now it is easy to check all of our email accounts, text message our friends, post on Facebook, blurt on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and best of all, play those seemingly innocuous games.  Oh and we should not forget that we can actually us it as a phone.

Many organizations issue laptops to their employees.  Laptops go with employee everywhere the employ goes.  That can be an efficient and certainly a convenient thing.  However, when meetings are via distance, and there is no video, we can’t see our people “multitasking” through the meeting or discussion.  “I apologize, I had my microphone on mute” can be the cover for trying to get oriented to the discussion.  Multitasking seems like we are accomplishing more but we may not be. … Continue reading

Off Topic Dad

I know this is way off topic; however I thought we should post this. Below is a letter my brother and I sent to the Veterans Administration. Our father was in the Special Forces and served multiple tours in Vietnam.  The US has been in wars for decades now, and we do not know the total cost in terms of the lives of our veterans.  The numbers are not just those lost in the field, but also those that come home and their families.  For example, in our house, you knew to close the cabinets slowly (I closed them on my finger and then gently pulled my finger from behind the door) so the door does not make a bang sound, awakening or startling our dad.  I thought this was normal until I saw the medical records when he went into the hospital.


I am submitting this claim for VA compensation on behalf of the family of … Continue reading

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