The agile weblog of Sebastian Schürmann

Category: fun

Weekly recap – Week #37

This week was code, code and code.

If you look for a way to generate a appcache.manifest and make your page more available for offline usage, grunt-appcache is your friend.

Manifesto is a anice bookmarklet to let you check HTML appcache manifests.

Using input fields with an TabletPC might pose ne challenges to event handling as I found out. Dismissing the virtual keyboard might break your layout.

Instead of using backbone and wondering about the amount of boilerplate to write, I might have a look into the new apper framework for single page apps. Nice one.

Math.js just got a 1.0 and I find the new filter feature very interesting. You might wanna check your js codebase for calculations that could be done with mathjs in a simpler way. Still I heavily recommend it.

Blog Posts will be moved.

I will be moving some of the posts from here to a new site that will host dissident trainings and all workshop related stuff.

If someone has ideas on the final jekyll site or a way to move posts from to a new blog (my seo friends): please send me ideas and hints.

The posts that will be moved get a tag: ‘dissent

Please, no more care-bear Retrospectives

I was stumbling over an article that presented a way to hold a part of a special kind of retrospective:

The purpose of this retrospective is to get only positive cards!

The Basic Idea is to find a positive thing about the things that went bad during a sprint, and this in the phase where we try to gather data.

  • Ask each team member to write cards with things that happened good during the sprint and things that went bad.
  • For each negative card, ask people to find a positive thing about it, and make it a new card
  • Ask people to present only positive cards!

I feel alarmed and troubled when I hear this. This results out of my need of being authentic to people and let them have an autonomous decision on how they feel something went in a sprint/life/job whatever. As a result of this I expect openness and total/brutal honesty when it comes to naming the facts from the teams that enter a room for a retro with me.

I mean this is a pattern we see in parental-ship (Oh little doggy pet died! don’t cry, he is in doggy heaven now) and even in modern communication methods where the hard facts of a “Story” (for example the Drone-war in Afghanistan/Pakistan) are understated to a level of degree that we don’t get the real situation anymore (this is called Meiosis). In full effect I would go as fas as calling it a variant of Orwell’s “Newspeak”. Quote from 1984:

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

We are neither a nation of suppressed people nor little children. There are so many natural safeguards and barriers that people have to overcome when they have to speak up in a retro that I do not want to risk this willingness by not allowing a certain way to take part in a this event.

Let’s see what Esther Derby has to say about the purpose of this 2nd phase:

  • create a shared pool of data
  • ground the retrospective on facts, not opinion
  • consider the objective experience

I find this already very hard to achieve and must admit I find the goals a little hard: Especially the facts, not opinion part. I don’t go for it in every retrospective, especially not the Phase 2 ;). Why? The separation of observations and so called facts is a very hard thing. I tend to do a mad/sad/glad after the team put some observations to the wall, most times in form of a timeline. What happened when, free from judgements and so called facts. These facts are most times hard to dissect from opinion. Mad/Sad/Glad is based on Feelings aka can be pure opinion as well.

This shared thought thing contains the danger that only popular opinions will be accepted. This is not what I want from a retro. I want disagreement, discussion and a group of people trying to work out one or two ideas on how things can be done better the next sprint.

It’s just my opinion that care-bearing won’t help. True, honest communication will. This is hard to do, we are constantly getting fed other types of communication, far from honest, most times not true.

My retrospective, my rules. So in case you are trapped in any of those events with me and think of something as negative, please say so, any moment with your words whatever they are.

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. Karl Popper

Service Design Thinking, I haz problemz with you

Lately, I have been reading up a lot of stuff on the design thinking movement, style of work and community. All this seems to be a big pool of old and new ideas combined, in order to find the perfect product for the customer. The most important books are “This is Service Design Thinking” and “Change by Design”; the first to be written by a group of industry experts, the later written by Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO – A big international design company). Let me be clear: I love most of the ideas in Service Design Thinking: Multilateral thinking, cross-functional teams up to “transdisciplinary” work, agile fitting in quite well and a lot of solutions to problems I encounter in daily work.

The Problem

However I have observed a issue that heavily disturbs me and that I never sawit discussed in the service design community meetups where I showed up: Ethics.

Two examples to make my point clear:

“Change by Design”

The Book describes a project for the american TSA in order to optimize the (post 9/11?) changes to processes on airports. People, aware of the changes in procedure at american airports, warn regularly about the very open attacks on civil liberties that were introduced with these new procedures. (Damage to health from untested scanners and sexual harassment of kids being 2 of them). Another one was a project for the “Bank of America” in order to create a new product for people to make personal bank accounts more modern. Personally, I would never work for any of these customers:

  • TSA: Airport Security ever was (and maybe ever will be) security theater at best. Just Google the stuff and maybe don’t read state sponsored research on that subject. After you did this Google “Project Censored TSA” and be amazed on how the USA has privatized sovereign efforts to TSA and this company is used, in a very similar way military contractors by Companies like Xi, to outsource and undermine basic freedoms of citizens.
  • Bank Of America: Just Google “Bank of America Scandal YEAR”. Dear IDEO’s you could have known this before. Where is the research on your customers?

Yes, “Change by Design” has a part on more philanthropic projects in later chapters of the Book, but it’s to late there. I think this is covering up for the more dark aspects of the earlier jobs. Yes, it helps clearing the conscience of the companies and people working there but it is to late by then. You can not make up with a philanthropic project for the damage done in another project.

“This is Service Design Thinking”

In the Chapter “Operations Management – The Quest for Efficiency” the Author Kate Blackmon uses McDonalds as a good example of the combination of elements from “Taylorism” (work analysis and job specification) and “Fordism” (standardization of the inputs and outputs). This was where I went OMGWTFNERDRAGE. Yes, McDonalds might be a heavily optimized workplace, but ask a Burger-flipper of your choice how much he loves that job, a animal rights group of your choice about the conditions the animals live in which land on your dish (ask chicken if you got a good stomach), ask people who know about healthy food ingredients on McDonalds meals and I could go on. I should be thanking for this Example, there is no better explanation for the bad Side-effects if you apply the thinking of Taylor and Ford without additional ethical safeguard. I don’t oppose standardization and job specification at all, but I must insist that you, dear reader, think about a moment what happens when these principles are used without any consideration for the human being part of the whole process. I mjst be addin that we seem to live in th “Post Fordist” age, and hereby the reference to Taylor and Ford seems to be a bit outdated. It’s not the 80ies anymore.

Why so angry?

The lack of critical thinking towards the own behavior was very evident to me when I visited some “Service Design Thinking” events in 2012 and this impression hasn’t got any better through the two books I had read. There is so much communication about sustainability et al. on these events that I feel like listening to the person leading the department for “Corporate Social Responsibility” of a Blue Chip company – I simply feel lied to.

  • Someone explaining me why he created this new Headphone and I am thinking: Why the F**K would the world really need a new headphone? Aren’t there a Quadrillion models out there?
  • Someone explaining the “Design Challenge” they had at the University, about to create a future sustainable car .. DAFUQ … NO car is the car of the future, with a simple equitation the damn challenge can be solved, if like 80% of the world would have access to own cars the world would be sucked dry of raw materials relatively fast. Let alone whatever kind of fuel is needed. Have fun inventing the “Flux Compensator” first.
  • Designing the “Hair Dryer of the Future” – RAGE … The hair dryer of the future will be a refurbished one with remade electronics, because in 50 or 100 years it will be very hard to get the resources for what we are producing today.

As long as we use Methods that potent like “Service Design Thinking” with Ethics that seem to be void of the learnings of the “Enlightenment” and “Post-Industralization” Phases brought, I fear the danger coming from it. The chance of leaps in product development is is there, that is a result of the amazing way to work, but as long as this movement seems to be avoiding basic Ethics it’s a loaded gun on a child-yard. The lack of critical thinking and the fueling of a pure desire based economy with new products is diminishing the Method of “Service Design Thinking” to a simple Tool to add to blind consumption at best and not to a thing that “Changes the World” like the Design Thinking Community tries to imply whenever it can.


The Pairing Workshop v0.1

The guys at jimdo were the first ones to invite me over for a workshop. We agreed on a training about Pair programming, a practice known from Extreme Programming. Jimdo really is drinking the agile cool aid (Kanban, Visual Management etc.) and the team seemed to be fond of a training on this very specific topic.

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Agile Waltz – Brainstorming at #p4a12 – play4agile

While visiting the play4agile conference in Rückersbach, now for the second time in a row, a lot of great feedback was given to me by the participants regarding my journeyman’s year project. A lot of different people visit this conference: From agile coaches to project managers to coding craftsmen, all types of Agilists can be found there. It turned out to be a perfect mixture of people helping me with new input on the idea.

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A journeyman’s travel

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Some ups and downs brought me into the situation that I am actually without a job or contract and I have  some spare time at hand that I am going to spend with a journeyman’s travel or so called waltz.

The journeyman years refer to the tradition of setting out on travel for several years after completing apprenticeship as a craftsman. The tradition dates back to medieval times and is still alive in German-speaking countries. In the British Isles the tradition is lost and only the title journeyman itself remains as a reminder of the custom of young men traveling throughout the country. (wikipedia)

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The prototype club

  1. The first rule of Prototype Club is, you do not talk about Prototype Club.
  2. The second rule of Prototype Club is, you DO NOT talk about Prototype Club.
  3. If someone goes limp, taps out, the Prototyping is over.
  4. A Team a Prototype.
  5. One Prototype at a time.
  6. Shirts & Shoes allowed.
  7. The Prototyping will go on as long for maximal 15 Minutes.
  8. If this is your first night at Prototype Club, you have to create a Prototype.

Agile built my Software

soon i discovered that this agile thing was true
waterfall was the devil
agile was a standard in humanity previous to it’s career in the software industry
all of a sudden, i found myself in love with the world
so there was only one thing that i could do
was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long


Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a tribe. Choose a fucking big visions, Choose computers, mobiles, hard drives and internet. Choose to choose, low waste and no insurance that it will work. Choose sprinting. Choose a iteration 0. Choose your colleagues. Choose art and being an artist. Choose to make a difference in a range of fucking projects. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Friday evening. Choose not  sitting on that chair watching mind-numbing sprit- crushing meetings, stuffing fucking boredom in your brain. Choose being still passionate at the end of it all, putting you in the position to disobey to command and control, nothing more than an piece of guidance to the other change agents you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life… But why wouldn’t I want to do a thing like that?