Tue, 30 Dec 2014 00:48:18
Part of teaching this course on Agile has been talking about something called the "3 Pillars of Empiricism." They are transparency, inspection and adaptation. As part of trying teach about these concepts, I've also found it necessary to talk about three other concepts - iteration, feedback and empiricism. Empiricism is the concept that people have most trouble with. As a word, and as an approach to projects.
Examples of destructive feedback:
Conflicting feedback e.g That's nice tea, now I want it with sugar, without sugar, with milk, without milk, skimmed, full fat, lemon, no lemon.
Feedback that's too early - I want a cup of tea - where is it? I want it now! I'm sick of waiting for this cup of tea.
Feedback on the means rather than the ends, when only the ends are important e.g. can you make a cup of tea please? Don't use that mug. What are you doing aren't you going to use a teapot? Aren't you going to warm it? Tea then milk? Really?
Feedback that demands ridiculous increases in capacity - that's a nice cup of tea, now I want a million of them in 10 minutes.
Feedback that's incomprehensible - this tea isn't mysterious enough, I wanted happy tea God damn it!
These are examples of feedback from a notional customer to a notional supplier, but I think there are also examples in the other direction.
Overwhelmingly negative feedback - we've examined the possibility of making you tea and drawn up a list of the top three hundred problems.
Feedback that threatens your authority or position - only an idiot would ask for a cup of tea like this.
Feedback that's premature - "I'd like a cup..." Here are fifteen problems with what you've just said.
The same feedback over and over again that you can do nothing about: the kettle is slow, we need a better kettle, the kettle is slow, we need a better kettle.
I bet if you talked to some people who've been product owners, or been clients for Agile projects, they could give you a longer list, or people who've had to listen to feedback from product owners and clients, they could give you a longer list. A lot of what makes feedback annoying or destructive is its timing - the feedback needs to come at the right time.