All Consuming

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6 entries have been written about this.

A story about "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" — 8 years ago


A review of "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" — 8 years ago


Testing the to blogger connection …

Gladwell’s book has been an influencer of the Zeitgeist of social networking, I’d been looking forward to reading it. It turns out to be a good, if a bit repetitive, book.

He analyzes change, and the people who drive change, in terms of epidemics. What’s interesting about epidemics (good or bad ones) is they come on slowly. They’re encouraged by environmental catalysts. But then they have the power to tip and go non-linear and have explosive growth. Any events at a large scale, such as at the societal or economic level, can follow the same pattern.

He lays out “three rules” for epidemics (which aren’t really rules, but principles) The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

“The Few” are the people who act as catalysts, whom he breaks down into Connectors (networkers), Mavens (early adoptors), and Salesmen (evangelists). The examples are long-winded, which is what makes the book seem so too. But I love hearing about how other people achieved things in their lives, and this section was inspiring — the few, when putting themselves out there in the right circumstances — truely can make a difference. Drawing on one of examples — Paul Revere wouldn’t have been successful without being networked prior to his famous ride.

I’m a maven by nature, but I’ve been wanting to be a better networker for some time, and the Connectors gladwell describes peaked my interest.

I’ve been fascinated by (and a believer in) the broken window theory of law enforcement, but I hadn’t read much of the details of the New York case until this book. Gladwell describes it in detail in the Power of Context section (part 1). Then he talks about the non-linear power of networking in part 2.

His examples for Stickiness are from smoking and suicide. I found these interesting, but distracting in terms of explaining the principles.

The book left me with a reinforced belief, and feeling of awe, in the potential for large scale changes to “tip” suddenly. And it left me with a belief that the “social web” will succeed as it’s seeming to, and a hopefullness that if people engage and act as catalylsts, they can in fact do great things in this huge world of ours.

A story about "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War" — 8 years ago


Saw the movie first, then got the book to read. Both were stunning, engrossing, frustrating, inspiring, saddening.

And extremely relevant given what we’re experiencing in Iraq, where almost 100 times the number of soliders have died or been injured.

It was shocking to think of these soldiers, exposed and largely wandering Mogadishu for hours, just constantly being fired upon. How we couldn’t even give them straight directions despite plenty of air support. How the principle of going back for every man, kept putting more and more in danger. How massive firepower does you no good if you can’t use it (in an urban setting). And how military engagement where it’s not desired by the populous can so easily go awry, especially if you’re in the midst of desperate, destitute people.

If you’re at all interested in military non-fiction, this meticulously recreated on-the-ground account of the events in Somolia in 1993 is a must-read.

A story about "Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd Edition (The XP Series)" — 8 years ago


Good introduction to Extreme Programming from the creator. Nothing is covered in depth, but the breadth of XP is covered from principles to practices to historical background.

I never got the chance to read the first edition, but a wonderful characteristic of the 2nd ed, is that it consistently interprets XP in terms of lean principles. Loved the stuff at the end relating XP back to where it aligns with or avoids Taylorism, Toyota Production System, etc.

XP is a very mature, well thought through methodology. The counter-intutive (pair programming) and counter-cultural (“extreme”) elements can get in the way, which is a shame because this is the real deal.

I’d recommend this book for anyone doing team-scale software development.

A story about "Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit" — 8 years ago


Just an awesome book. This is a cookbook for the future of team-scale software development, provided to us in 2003.

The book leads us through 22 “Tools” in an agile toolkit. These are sometimes concepts or practices, so it’s somewhat shakey as an organzing principle of the book. But every chapter is very readable, and packed with clear thinking about the challenges and solutions (from the lean realm) for software development with teams.

The chapters which resonated most were Ch 2-4: “Amplify Learning”, "Decide as Late as Possible, and “Deliver as Fast as Possible”. But they’re all good, and build on clear references to and understanding of the lean revolution outside of software, and the agile revolution within.

Managing the Design Factory is refered to by this book, and is a good follow-up for more background.

This wouldn’t be the first book to pick up as a dev (that would be The Pragmatic Programmer or Code Complete), but I would have it on my list for any manager of teams, or certainly a process designer.

A story about "Managing the Design Factory" — 8 years ago


This book came doubly recommended to me, and it didn’t disappoint. If you want to inspect the foundations and the future of agile and lean methods, they are here. Sometimes disguised as lessons from automotive or airplane design, this book is a well written and readable tour of lean principles.

The whole first half of the book (parts one and two) is top-notch. A few of the gems: the explaination of queuing theory (ch 3), early quality vs. late learning (pg 13-6), works expands to fill time available (pg 18), the importance of small increments and short iterations for information generation and learning (ch 4), and the explaination of closed feedback loops with thermostat example (pg 87-89).

The rest of the book builds on these foundations. Possibly because it’s not necessarily software-specific, the rest of the book had gems every few pages, but went slow.

Partly by design, I was reading Lean Software

Development by Popendieck (2003) somewhat concurrently with Managing the Design Factory (1997).

Overall, if you’re in software and need to “get to work”, I’d recommend first reading Poppendieck (it’s already informed by Reinertsen), but Reinertsen is a close second with excellent background.

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