I’ll be participating in Seattle Lean Camp over the weekend of July 16 & 17, and am really looking forwards to the event. At my current job, I spend time doing software development, but almost none reflecting on process (“the” process, as well as my process).
Thinking back, turns out I’ve only been involved in one (1) Big Design Up Front metacolossus software project. Not much to note about that one except that:
- we wasted a big amount of time up front;
- the software is still in use 6 or so years later;
- the best parts of it are those which were unplanned; and
- never again.
Generally, agile/haptic/emergent/no design has been the norm in my work. This is probably due to my age and the fact that I didn’t get into serious software-as-deliverable gigs until grad school (about 02006). I’m one of the lucky ones.
Point being that, in software, as in design, and as in life, you make it up as you go along. At the beginning of a project you’re making something from nothing. Later, you’re making something with quality/utility/beauty out of that first something. How you’re making it up, and why, is all that matters. Specifically: these are the only things you have control over, so you’d damn well better make them the only things that matter.
That’s the lesson of the independent practitioner. You spend a lot of time saying “yes”, and a lot of time saying “no”, and most of your time saying “maybe” (which means “no”) — but all of that time needs to map onto
getting paid doing valuable work. The work of reversing entropy, delighting clients and customers, creating complexity that can be taken for granted.
This is why I’m fascinated by the intermediary artifacts people use to generate, contain, and communicate design (oratory, reports, explanations, wireframes, maps, e-mails, drawings, scale models, whispers in the night, extended metaphors, etc.) and bored beyond the vale of tears by the professional identities and associations the same people wrap around themselves (information architect, user interface designer, user experience designer, researcher, product designer, librarian, futurist, urban planner, etc.). I get it: you need a professional identity to
get paid situate your self and your work. It’s useful language.
So let’s treat the language of identity and association as damage and route around it.
Let’s try a roomful of people, each doing different things in different ways, with different teams and to different ends; fill that room, and say: great, now that we’re all here, take a weekend to listen and speak about how to make the things which, in turn, let you make the things you actually care about.