Lessons on Learning LO10242

John Paul Fullerton (jpf@mail.myriad.net)
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 14:39:30 +0000

Replying to LO10208 --

My comment could have the subject "Adding Technology or Design" However, I
would just as soon follow the present conversation.

> IMHO, if you take two 'identical' individuals, connect one to the
> 'right' relationships [within and outside the org.] and leave the
> other to flounder, you will soon see a significant difference in
> actual, measurable work performance.

In the August 1996 issue of "Object Magazine" ("Improving Software Quality
Through Object Technology"), Al Young ("a senior research engineer with
Novell Systems Research") has an article called "Bleached Bones at the
Waterhole". He starts with

"When I was a boy, my dad would drop me off at the movies on Saturday
afternoons. For fifty cents I could buy a ticket and something to munch
on. At the time, I thought I was just going to the movies. But since then,
I've realized that I was learning important lessons about software design
and development."

That caught my attention, since that's what I've been doing this summer!
The drama of what happens in movies provides a different perspective on
software development (and also the introduction of new technology and/or
design to an organization). Al Young doesn't emphasize the metaphor that
much through the rest of the article. He provides the following thoughts
(among other comments) about "things to look for in development projects
focusing on information management".


"Every organization has a threshold for tolerating improvement. Utopian
solutions won't fly if the customer doesn't see their value. One of the
vulnerabilities here arises from the developer's desire to add unrequested
functionality. With a few lines of code, or the addition of a method or
two, we implement something and run on to the next idea, leaving the
customer to figure out what to do with the functionality. Instead, we
ought to sell the customer on the idea first, then implement it.

"Most customers approach a tool or an application as a specific solution
to a specific need. The customer's understanding of functionality,
therefore, moves from specific to general; that is, only later in the
customer's association with a concept or functionality does generalization
occur. Developers, on the other hand, tend to approach functionality by
implementing generic capabilities adaptable to numerous, specific
requirements, and their orientation tends to move from general to

>From my own programming efforts, the creation of new functionality or
utilization of possible (not yet implemented) functionality is exciting.
For example, if I wrote a routine to get the keys that are typed, if I saw
that another routine could "observe" the process and provide an additional
"free" benefit (such as real-time checking of spelling), it could seem
very advantageous to add the new function. It wouldn't necessarily follow
the view of the program as an object that should be understandable to the
user. Thus, because options could be added, they might be!

The following may be a little harsh (for me to quote); however, I didn't
write it!

"Individuals within our customers' organizations have built empires or
sand-bagged their positions based on how things are currently done. These
people resist any change until they figure out how to exploit it. As a
safeguard, we must monitor the degree to which our customers understand
how to exploit our output."

The same things could be said (could be) of those implementing change.
What do the change advocates exploit? And there is alternative wording
that could very well resemble people's right to arrange their furniture
the way they want to. Maybe they don't want the change like we might not
want the change required by assuming payments for a very expensive car.

Every geographical place has things unique to it (as does every personal
sequence or continued sequence of thoughts); it would be erroneous to
expect others to see the advantage that is further along a particular
sequence of thoughts without bringing them there. It's not a geographical
place; it's explaining what's going on!

Have a nice day
John Paul Fullerton


"John Paul Fullerton" <jpf@mail.myriad.net>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>