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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Craft, cooperative gaming and lessons from lean manufacturing

Alistair Cockburn, in his thought-provoking publications titled "From Agile Development to the New Software Engineering", shows how software engineering is built on the following three legs and what to make of it. A few excerpts:

  • Craft -  "Being in a craft profession brings with it certain expectations, such as lifelong learning, or “deepening” the proficiency in one’s craft. Programmers shouldn’t think that just because they once learned to program a computer, their programming skills are still sufficient. As craft professionals, programmers, project managers and others should always be looking to learn new tools, and techniques, and get better in the ones they have. [Cockburn]"
  • Cooperative gaming - "Every game and every situation are potentially different – there is no formula for winning the game. Different, even opposite strategies may be needed at any instant; The quality of a move in the game is not absolute, but rather, is only relative to how it improves the position of the team for its next move; The quality of community and communication among the team members matter enormously – they often make the difference between success and failure. [Cockburn]"
  • Lessons from lean manufacturing - "... people hand other people decisions; people wait on each other for decisions; and some people have a bigger backlog of decisions than they can handle at the moment. Examining the dependency network of decisions in play in an organization, we see that this network is very similar to the dependency network of parts in a manufacturing plant. Quite surprisingly, the same mathematics applies to the situation, and many of the same strategies apply: just-in-time, pull, continuous flow, and so on. [Cockburn]"

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