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Robert's Blog ideas about design and development

Tonight I met with Cody Marx Bailey, Roby Fitzhenry, Stephanie Leary, Wendy Wolfington, Mike Abney, Allen Hurst et al to talk about the next BarCampBCS I originally thought. We did do that eventually, but along the way we talked about several issues near and dear to my heart, namely localism, continuous improvement, and community development.

I've always seen a link between one's ability to make a difference in one's own community and how well one does one's own job. The idea being: if I do a good job, others around me will be inspired by my example and desire to do a good job as well, and eventually that will have a lasting impact on the quality of life for us all. This idea came racing back to me tonight as we sat at Murphy's Law and discussed the proposed MiniBar for November 14th. In my experience, the people who are concerned about social responsibility are also the people who are concerned about how well they are doing at work. These are the same people who reflect on how they can improve their performance and the quality of service they offer: continuous improvement.

We also talked about using our work talents in a pro bono fashion to uplift the community by say redoing the web page of a non-profit in need or building applications to track volunteer hours and other things for non-profit groups.

Software developers are interested in continuous improvement mostly for the selfish reason of not wanting to produce junk. Many of us long to make inspired creations that are both useful and beautiful. We pour hours of our time into building applications not only to write the code, markup and styling that goes into these things but also to research the latest and greatest technology and methodologies.

I have known for quite some time that more peole than just software developers think this way, especially having been a web designer myself in the not too distant past. I am constantly talking process and method with Roby Fitzhenry, a local web designer and a design hero of mine. We really speak two different languages: him design communication, and me C#. Yet through this, we still identify strongly with one another and relate with one another. Obviously it can be demonstrated through the existence of books like The Toyota Way and How to Win Friend and Influence People that ideas of self-improvement and process improvement are not confined to a particular discipline.

I think at this point we are on a course of finding others and relating to them how we doing a better job can aid them doing a better job and vice versa. For instance, if I build a good product and I want Roby to help brand and market it for me, he is now just trying to get the right information into the hands of the right people to help them do a better job, and we aren't just trying to sell stuff anymore. The world is full of junk. Let's stop making junk. Let's make quality products instead. This makes me think of a video I just watched on "Accomplish More by Doing Less but Thinking More". This video (combined with a lot of talking I've been doing with Kyle Marshall at work) has got me thinking about how things could be better if we spent more time planning and less time doing. I think we as Americans have a real problem separating what is signal from what is noise.

Landing somewhere between "analysis paralysis" and a total lack of planning on a project has been the topic of several discussions among the members of AgileBCS. I am interested to see what the take of others outside the software development arena is on balancing too much planning against not enough planning, and how they strike that balance.

I haven't set out to define the thesis for our upcoming MiniBar, but hopefully have captured the ideas of others with fidelity and added some of my own.

Edit: There is a Continuous Improvement Open Space happening down in Austin on October 30-November 2nd (the Open Space itself is just the afternoon of 31st to the 2nd). I really hope some of the thought leaders that were present tonight (as well as some of the ones that weren't) can make it to this. Remember, you don't have to be a tech nerd to go to this. Management and leadership types are welcome as well. Remember the Open Space principle, "Whoever comes is the right people."

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:49 AM AsUnit | Back to top

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