I've been thinking a lot about what it would mean for our whole company to engage somewhat more deeply in agile methodologies. Our product/technology team has been committed to some form of agile since founding, but elsewhere in the company, there seem to be some opportunities to make a stronger commitment to the first idea in the Agile Manifesto, namely, to respect the preference of "[i]ndividuals and interactions over processes and tools." The Manifesto goes on to say "while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more." Most forms of agile are pretty hostile to excessive documentation, process, and tools, preferring the actual built thing (the product) over artifacts and ceremony. I also had just taken a Scrum refresher from JJ Sutherland, and was reflecting even more than usual about what takes the place of those things on the right: processes and tools, comprehensive documentation, contract negotiation, and following a plan. I started to think that perhaps it was simply talking to one's colleagues more, and then serendipitously, on the tables at the MIT Coop bookstore, I noticed both Sherry Turkle's Reclaiming Conversation and Catherine Turco's The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media. This is a quick review of Turco's book.
We have a big problem in tech. It's really hard to get out of our skins and observe what we're doing. Catherine Turco is a trained anthropologist, and this book is an ethnography of...Read more and comment . . .