Talkban, another way of implementing Kanban

A few days ago I was listening to an interview to an expert in the Kanban approach applied to software engineering. I’ve been reading about Kanban since a while now and I find it quite an interesting way to solve problems in the process of software production. The interview, though, raised some kind of existentialist questions in my head: the way the expert was talking was clearly oriented towards raising the curiosity into the listeners so to push them to buy his book. The expert was really careful not to go too deep in the details of the topic giving an overall uneasy impression.

The spread of new methodologies and process-frameworks have created a world scale new business that aims at evangelizing the masses into effective ways of producing software. The chance is proving to be a golden opportunity and the business of courses and conferencing is now sky-rocketing, maybe in a kind of excess.

Now the question is this: how much standardized methodologies can cope with the complexity of the mix given by human interactions between colleagues, location and therefore culture of the company and the sector the company is operating in?

Trying to put things into perspective I can’t avoid recalling how Phil, my former boss in London, reacted when I told him I was taking a Scrum Master course. And the same kind of feeling is what I had when I read one of the books from Joel Spolsky. Both these events suggest me that even though agile methodologies are definitely a good way to go – we actively use them in our projects at Calameda – the hype around them is causing some sort of bubble.

Many successful software companies still develop using home made processes that are the result of an evolution going on with the story of the company itself. These processes are built with layers of experience and gain from the contribution of people. Sometimes the shifts they go through come in the most unexpected way like it happened when a new colleague of mine successfully managed a project with an “explosive” team that included two team members that nobody in the previous 3 years could put together effectively.

Sometimes it’s only a matter of applying human principles even in everyday job, and this could also involve subtle non-technical acts like smiling and saying “hello” in the morning as soon as we enter the office. Reaching these conclusions now makes me think that it would have been better if I used those 4.000 EUR I invested in my “agility” to buy a wonderful Argon 18 for my triathlon dreams…

Just a last note on the two best events I attended this year until now: the Augmented Reality Unconference in Amsterdam and the ProductCamp in London: both free, both full of people eager to talk about their experiences and maybe find a new way of growing. And collaboration and exchange with people is also what guided us in choosing to join TechHub in London where we are spending our first day of a new adventure.

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