December 8, 2006

...Learn TDD with Codemanship


A word of thanks to John Mattock, our facilitator from Right Brain Ltd. I lost my wallet on the way to an off-site meeting he's helping my client with, and was a bit concerned that I had to get to a bank with suitable ID to withdraw much-needed cash to support my champagne and caviar lifestyle. Rather than have me worrying about it all day, John nipped off to the bank and withdrew 200 of his own hard-earned spondulicks for me.

I hardly know the guy, so I think John was very generous to help me out like that - above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks, John!

While I'm on that subject, John's been helping us to set goals for a fairly major software process improvement program. We've already had a chap in to help out with the technical aspects of performance measurement, and now John is giving us valuable guidance on the personal, "right-brained" aspects of the whole process. A lot of the guidance comes in the form of games and other fun exercises, which help to strip away the complexity that disguises everyday situations so we can see them for what they are. Regular readers of this blog might know that I'm all in favour of that line of enquiry.

Where John and I probably see eye-to-eye is on the whole topic of non-determinism. Engineers naturally look for predictable mechanisms to help them understand and control their situations. But I believe this sense of predictability and control is an illusion. The reality is that most often we have to act without understanding and we can never be certain of the results of our actions. But that should not dissuade us from acting. Doing nothing, or doing something too late, is the best guarantee of failure in most cases. We must never underestimate our intuitive intelligence, that huge mass of quantum computation* that we're never aware is going on, but is capable of extraordionary - and sometimes non-computable - feats of deduction, literally as we sleep. With intuition, we usually can't explain how we know what we just seem to know. Of course, we'll get it wrong much of the time; but if we get it wrong 49% of the time, I suggest that's no worse a track record than can be achieved through more "scientific" means. I suspect we've evolved our intuiton because sitting around consciously figuring out what to do was probably a great way to get eaten back in the days when getting eaten was a real possibility.

So if your organisation is stuck in stategic analysis paralysis, I would consider giving John a bell. That's right up his street.

* Okay, that's just an educated guess
Posted 14 years, 7 months ago on December 8, 2006