A friend of mine always say the biggest problem with software is that bad software still works. But what about when software makes you sick? Or creates completely new businesses that profit from the strict and inflexible nature of software? I very much enjoyed this article in The New Yorker by @atul_gawande.
Me and Teddy Zetterlund had lunch last week and reflected on the challenges of working in big organisations. Later he sent me this excellent article by Niels Pflaeging outlining a new theory about the types of leadership (and influence) that exist in an organisation. I immediately started thinking about my situation and those around me and I’m definitely putting this theory in my bag of tools for Agile Coaching.
This weeks reading #3 (It’s too complex, and perhaps too stimulating. But you’ll still make mistakes.)
”All this work had been put into this thing, but it missed the fundamental problems that people faced. And the biggest one that I took away from it was that basically people are playing computer inside their head.” Programmers were like chess players trying to play with a blindfold on — so much of their mental energy is spent just trying to picture where the pieces are that there’s hardly any left over to think about the game itself.”
Creating software is, still today, a struggle. Converting ambiguous statements about problems into precise unambiguous instructions for a computer to solve it. Talk to any experienced programmer and they’ll tell you to focus on the problem at hand, not the code. But what if the level of complexity is so high that humans are unable to comprehend it? Self-driving cars, aviation systems, Amazon Web Services, power grid software etc. How can we trust them? In this article you’ll get to know some of the people and programming languages in this field. Because humans are not to be trusted with this level of complexity.
Using game theory Simon Sinek talks about the finite player who wants to win and the infinite player who wants to keep the game running. What happens when you look at companies and nations using that lens? Eg. the United States entered the Vietnam War to win while FNL was in it for as long as it took. The US acted as a finite player and the FNL as an infinite player. Stay with him through the Q&A-part, it contains the most interesting bits.
An hour into their journey on March 28, 2014, the Pokoras crossed the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge and hit the border checkpoint on the eastern side of the Niagara Gorge. An American customs agent gently quizzed them about their itinerary as he scanned their passports in his booth. He seemed ready to wave the Jetta through when something on his monitor caught his eye.
“What’s … Xenon?” the agent asked, stumbling over the pronunciation of the word.
Video games, heists and a moral compass that starts moving in the wrong direction. Brendan I. Koerner’s thrilling story for WIRED has it all:
Rating your ideas according to your confidence in them (not to be confused with your self-conviction) is an interesting method for reducing the number of duds you release to your users. Combining it with breaking down the ideas into their essential parts and scoring them separately also seems to be a good idea to avoid goldplating and extensive over-engineering:
And what’s the difference between focusing on deadlines and focusing on finding the right problem to solve? Can you imagine having your team pitching problems to you as a Product Owner and letting them decided on a course by measuring their business impact? Inspiring indeed.
Back in 2012 when Paul Miller quit the internet. For a year I enjoyed reading about his experience. Using that experience he’s written a guide to what you can expect if you quit facebook, twitter and the internet.