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random links: august 26, 2007

Ninja Town. I love the character names. A great video review. (Even though it’s of a demo of a game I’ve paid no attention to.) Tim Bray speaks sense on drugs. “Um, let’s see… the cost of pushing back a brutal ugly slow path to death is getting high from time to time. Yep, I […]

weinberg quotes

I’m in the middle of rereading Gerald Weinberg’s Quality Software Management series, which is motivating me to type various quotes on mailing lists that I’m on. Not sure that they’ll do much without the context (actually, I have no reason to believe that they did much for anybody even with the context!), but if I’m […]

rejection in person; printf debugging

One of the least pleasant aspects of hiring is rejecting candidates. (More actively unpleasant for them than for me, to be sure.) It’s something which, until recently, I did almost exclusively over e-mail. Sometimes, rejection over e-mail makes sense. I typically put candidates through up to three stages of filters. (Not counting the initial resume […]

misplaced hiring confidence

A bit from Bob Sutton’s Weird Ideas That Work (pp. 59–60) that caught my eye: People sometimes get annoyed when I say job interviews are a weak, often useless, way to select new employees. I’ve had executives, middle managers, engineers, scientists, lawyers, a fire chief, and a minister respond with anecdotes that “prove” how skilled […]

mike cohn on estimating and planning

Last week, I went to a talk by Mike Cohn on “Agile Estimating and Planning”. Good timing: I’d been thinking that I should get around to reading his book on the subject. Which I won a copy of at the drawing after the talk; apparently my recent remarkable good luck has (correctly) decided that I […]

codification of experience

Another quote from The Toyota Product Development System (p. 102), in the section on checklists: A company that cannot standardize will struggle to learn from experience and is not truly engaged in lean thinking. Indeed, any company that simply tries new things without standardizing along the way is “randomly wandering through a maze,” repeating the […]

don’t broadcast information

A quote from Morgan and Liker’s The Toyota Product Development System: Toyota does very little “information broadcasting” to the masses. Instead, it is up to the individual engineer to know what he or she is responsible for, to pull what is needed, and to know where to get it. Here’s the full context (pp. 95-96; […]

podcast queue management

Sorry for the lack of posts. I might have a post stuck in me, or I might just be getting lazy, or might not be thinking enough; hard to say. Maybe I’ll get unstuck over the holidays. Anyways, I present another banal application of lean to everyday life: Using my mad queue-management skillz, I’ve finally […]

response time

One thing that’s been bothering me at work recently: our response time to bugs is absurdly slow. Even bugs that are marked as high priority take a while to get worked on; bugs that aren’t marked as high priority may well never get worked on. Now, some of this is a classification issue: maybe a […]

lean thinking, shared purpose

I just finished Lean Thinking; it’s my current favorite lean book. One thing that made me jealous: they give several (to me) convincing examples of companies wanting to try out lean, and that brought in some people who really knew how lean worked. After doing what those people said, they immediately got some fairly impressive […]

throughput and latency

I’ve been kind of obsessed with the theory of constraints recently, which has gotten me wondering about bottlenecks. One of their points is that, in general, a system has a single bottleneck; you should do everything you can to make that bottleneck as productive as possible. For a simple bottleneck example, say you have a […]

benefits of slack

After some discussions on the leandevelopment list, it would seem that slack has has more benefits than I realized. My current list: If you’re not the bottleneck in your process, adding slack won’t decrease throughput and may well increase it (since it makes it easier for you to avoid stealing resources from the bottleneck). Leaving […]

how to improve?

I am currently awash in confusion about how we (my team, but also everybody working on the same product) should improve. Tough stuff; I hope I’ll have something more coherent to say here soon. Fortunately, the good folks on the leandevelopment mailing list are helping me sort through my difficulties. The fact that I’m so […]

it’s not luck

Today’s book: It’s Not Luck, the second of Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novels. Which I actually read after the third; cleared up a few issues, but the reading order didn’t matter too much. (I would recommend starting with The Goal, though.) This book presents some thinking tools for analyzing situations that confuse you, where you’re stuck […]

two weeks with new team

As I mentioned at the time, one of my fellow managers gave notice two and a half weeks ago, with the result that his team got combined with mine. Interesting couple of weeks. I had some ideas about how I might handle the transition, but they mostly got blown out of the water, for two […]

toc vs. jit

I just finished another one of Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novels on the Theory of Constraints. I didn’t lose sleep over it the way I did with The Goal, but it was quite good. And useful to see ToC applied to product development situations, instead of just manufacturing situations. One thing that caught my eye: not […]

expanding team

One of my fellow managers has resigned, and rather than hiring another manager, we’re merging his team with mine. So my team has more than doubled in size. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out, and to see if I’ve learned anything about managing over the last couple of years; I’m looking forward […]

lean employer-employee relations

One thing that I never got around to blogging about when I first became lean-obsessed: Toyota never fires anybody. Or something like that; at any rate, one thing that lean bloggers claim is that, for lean manufacturers, employees are a fixed cost instead of a variable cost. Which has interesting ramifications. In general, it’s a […]

business novels

I’ve read a couple of business novels recently, and I confess that I hadn’t properly appreciated the genre before. I’m not going to stop reading nonfiction or anything, but it seems like a quite decent way to learn something about an area that I don’t want to currently pursue in depth. Which is the case […]


When I first saw Brian Marick’s complaint about the prevalence of the term “leadership” at Agile 2006, my first reaction was “hmm, that doesn’t sound so good, and here I am being part of the problem.” After thinking about it a bit more, though, the Christopher Avery talk that I blogged about doesn’t sound like […]