Friday, February 10, 2017

Botany Photo of the Day is back!

Botany Photo of the Day is back!  After a hiatus of over a year, this daily email with beautiful photos linked is back!  Hooray!  At right is one of the photos from today's email (click to embiggen), a plant I've seen often in some of the areas that Debbie and I love the best.  This photo looks like it was taken in northern Arizona or southern Utah – our stomping grounds!

If you like what you see here, you can subscribe to it yourself (it's free) by filling out the form on the left side of the page linked above...

How on earth does Scott Adams do it?

How on earth does Scott Adams do it?  Today's cartoon (below) captures perfectly one of my main complaints about the current engineering management fad, which goes by the moniker “agile”.  When I was subject to those agile processes, in the last year or so before I retired, I experienced interruptions to my work flow such as I had never had before.  It finally got to the point where I told my boss that I was going to work from home, cell phone off, not watching email or the oh-so-interrupty messaging application the engineering team used.  If he didn't like it, that was fine – I'd happily quit.  He caved and let me work from home most of the time.  My productivity skyrocketed once I was (mostly) out of that “agile” loop!

If I had any talent in any of the areas necessary for a Dilbert-like cartoon, you'd easily understand how I could come up with something like this.  But Scott Adams has been independent of any technology job for a long time, since long before the agile methodology was even a gleam in its cursed father's eye.  How does he manage to do this?  I have no idea; I just stand in awe...

I'm ancient enough that I can remember a half dozen or so engineering management fads that came and went, from the late '70s up until my retirement in 2013.  All of them shared some “features”:
  • Lots of work for the managers at every level.  This looked impressive to upper management, convincing them that something good was happening.
  • Produced numerous reports purporting to track progress and predict development completion.  In reality all of those reports were bullshit with varying degrees of stench.
  • Reduced the productivity of all the most productive engineers, and encouraged them to leave.
  • Encouraged the other engineers to value process over skill, experience, or knowledge.
  • Produced managers with all the fervor of psychotic badgers, but without the attractive personality.  Somehow these managers tended to rise in the ranks, exacerbating all the other bad effects of the current fad.
  • Fizzled out after enough time passed that even the least-aware upper management folks understand that it didn't work.
The joking response to this would be to encourage anarchy in small engineering teams, and get rid of all these engineering process schemes.  The thing is ... I'm not at all sure that's a bad idea.  In fact, it's more-or-less the situation at every startup I've ever been associated with – and they were definitely the most productive engineering teams I know of.

In other words, engineering process may well be a Communist plot!