Coaching

The Baseless Critique Of Living Branchlessly

This branching thing. The idea behind branching is that it provides advantages in situations where a code change is large. The idea behind non-branching is not to enter those situations. These two views seem very difficult to reconcile. I am a non-brancher. I push to head, I pull from head, I test on head, I ship from head. Let’s take a second to consider the arguments against living like this. First, a whole team that lives like this is constantly …

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Endpointing vs. Next-Stepping

I mentioned endpointing yesterday. I’m always using geepaw-isms & expecting people to know what I mean. Endpointing is over-focus on eventual destination. In s/w, it’s seeing development as a long trip to a known destination on a known map. John Winthrop, a few centuries back, used "the city on the hill" to describe an endpoint, in his case for the puritan colony. The metaphor, of a trip to a place, is as natural as any human expression. But it contains …

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“Avoid Changing Code” Should Be Avoided

Of all the bad advice the geek trades inherit from over-simplified manufacturing & engineering, perhaps the worst: "avoid changing code". Take a minute, and think of all the things the trade does to avoid changing code. Virtually every element of "big design up front" policy is based in this view. Long stretches for analysis, longer ones for design. Planning cycles that extend years into the future. Years. I am not exaggerating for effect. Years. Contract-like specifications, database designs that start …

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Idols of the Schema: Ignoring Data While Overvaluing Ideas

The ‘idols of the schema’ is a geepaw-ism, and deserves some background & explanation. When we value the simplicity & clarity of an idea over the complexity & muddiness of its referent, we’re caught in an idol of the schema. Sir Francis Bacon was an english noble, a famous lawyer, and author of the Novum Organum, one of the seminal texts of empirical method. He wrote among many other things, of the ‘idola mentis’: idols of the mind, and offered …

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Purpose As Motivator: The P in RAMPS

Purpose is the P in RAMPS. Purpose as motivator is about the sense an individual has that she’s contributing to a greater mission shared by many. Both attributes matter: mission must be of a higher order than any individual’s whim, & it must be felt to be shared by the whole team. Purpose is really always purposes. Seen "from above", it resembles a sloppily drawn cross-section of a stem, a larger (sloppy) boundary, decomposed into smaller (sloppy) circles, some nearly …

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Rhythm as Urgency: The R in RAMPS

Rhythm is the R in RAMPS. Let’s take a look. Rhythm is about tension & release. It is the sense one has of readying, girding, coiling, then taking that stored energy & sending it out. We’ll get to music in a second, tho maybe in a way that will surprise you. But let’s start with some non-musical kinds of tension & release. A spring is stretched, creating tension, then let go of, creating release. Your movement is your muscle cells …

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Safety as Motivator: The S in RAMPS

Let’s do Safety, the S in the recent RAMPS as motivational force series. Safety is hard to get at in one summary sentence, but i’ll try. Safety is the sense we have that we belong: that we’re trusted, valued-in-spite-of, inside a team that welcomes our strange unruly selves. At its simplest, this sense manifests as the belief i’m allowed, even encouraged. Allowed to be different. Allowed to be mistaken. Allowed. You can see how hard that is to summarize! It …

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Autonomy: How Freedom Correlates To Urgency

Let’s talk about the A from RAMPS today: Autonomy. Autonomy is "simple not easy," just like the rest of the motivating forces. Autonomy is the sense of an individual that she is free to work the best way she knows how to achieve the tasks in front of her. We call self-driving cars "autonomous". We do that to contrast them with cars that are controlled by humans: machines. If I say an individual doesn’t feel he has autonomy, I’m saying …

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Mastery As Motivator: The M of RAMPS

Let’s talk a little about mastery today, in the sense of the RAMPS conversation from yesterday. What is mastery-as-motivator, and what can we do about increasing its motivational force? As I said before, the motivational force called mastery is about how humans value their own growth. All of us carry around an idea, implicit or explicit, of how as individuals we could be "better". Mastery as motivator is the sense we have that we’re stepping towards that "better" as we …

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A Sense Of Urgency: RAMPS As A Motivation Model

A very common question: managers turn to me and say, "My team lacks a sense of urgency, how can I give them one?" After I get over the snarky replies — I come from a long line of "the managed" — I do have what I think is an answer: "Study the idea of RAMPS, find the missing or depleted elements, move to restore them. And friend, don’t expect you can do it using words." RAMPS is my acronym for …

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