San Francisco, California

Agile as Trauma

Dorian Taylor has written an outstanding piece about making software and project management. He rushes out of the gate with the following sentence:

The Agile Manifesto is an immune response on the part of programmers to bad management.

I could not agree more. In fact, I think this piece about making software is the best thing I’ve read in a rather long time. Particularly on the subject of collaboration, where Dorian argues that it’s not always a good thing:

So much effort goes into writing and talking about collaboration, and creating tools to facilitate collaboration and telecollaboration, with the tacit assumption that more collaboration is always better. To quote Frederick Brooks, the more collaboration the better “is far from a self-evident proposition and certainly not universally true.” True indeed, to the extent that collaboration divides labour, but questionable as a fraction of one’s activity. Since communication overhead increases proportionally the square of the number of people on the team—a fact illuminated by Brooks in the 1970s—what you actually want is as little collaboration as you can get away with.

On this note, and in my experience, there has never been a meeting with more than 7 people in it that has been useful. At a certain point the more collaboration that takes place, the slower and the worse product development gets. Instead, we need to build teams that work almost entirely independently of one another.

I see that in much of my design systems work it’s about trying to reduce communication and collaboration: to get folks to stop being in meetings, asking questions about which color to use when, and to just push forward in their own direction independently.

Also, this reminds me of the vacuum of courage.