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I consider Nick Malik to be a both a friend and a mentor, and he's got a great blog talking about work flow, agile programming, project managment and SOA.  Today, he was talking about “Chickens and Pigs“ and said this about the agile practice of daily standup status meetings.

These meetings are designed to be short, and agile methods like Scrum suggest that you ask everyone to remain standing during the meeting.  Fifteen minutes should be a reasonable meeting length. 

I thought, “this is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while” so off I went.  

 

Something I wanted to touch on that you kind of hint at here, and that is the word "structure".  I think I'm going to need spend a full blog post on this, but simply put, "Agile has all the structure of waterfall, it's just that most of it is invisible".

 

You said ***

These meetings are designed to be short, and agile methods like Scrum suggest that you ask everyone to remain standing during the meeting.  Fifteen minutes should be a reasonable meeting length. 

***

 

The quote I pulled out hints at the inherent structure.  According to Larman’s “Agile and Iterative Development: A Managers Guide,” the whole idea behind "standup meetings" is that people don't like standing around for all that long.  Therefore the meeting stays as short as possible.  One leads to the other, you don’t have to set a time limit, the standing will do that.

 

My standard example of invisible structures in Agile is the (possible) lack of requirements documentation.  It's not that the requirements are never captured, it's just that we have "Bob".  Bob is a customer, possibly the customer evangelist, when the developers have a question, "do we use foo, or bar" they go to Bob and say, "Bob, we can use either foo, or bar to get this job done, foo would make x easier to do later, but bar would y a no brainer" and Bob says, "Well when you put it that way, go with foo, we need x soon, the need for y may never come".  Like I said, invisible structure.

 

Also, for anyone who has ever taken a shuttle around Microsoft.  Have you ever noticed that little Tupperware thing of candy on the seat?  Have you ever thought about it as a form of structure?  I submit that the candy on the seats performs the structure of keeping the shuttle drivers driving sanely and gently.  Other wise the candy would be spread across the bus like graffiti.

 

I took a shuttle from Millennium one day and when I got on the bus, I noticed that the little Tupperware thing was not present.  "Hmmm, I thought, that's interesting"  I then proceeded to have one of the roughest rides outside of an inner city bus that I have ever experienced. 

 

I have found it useful to look for the invisible structures.  Why put the foos ball table and the pool table in the central lobby ...  I'm not sure it was intentional, but it might encourage use, but not overlong use, "take a break, not a vacation"

 

So to draw it back to the original, the point of a stand up meeting, is to provide an invisible structure for keeping those status meetings as short as possible.  "Only pigs can talk" is another structure, but if it's in place, it's more obvious.

 

So my question to everyone is, what structures in every day life do you see, and what purpose and or message do they send.  That Tupperware of candy, on the seat of the bus is by far my current favorite.

Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 1:09 AM Contracting , Agile Development | Back to top


Comments on this post: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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For the literal minded of you, let me replace a few words and repeat.

What consistent side effects have you sensed in your environment that would indicate that an invisible structure is in place and having an effect.
Left by Malcolm Anderson on Sep 20, 2006 5:06 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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I think Malcolm right!
Left by Educational Toys on Jun 03, 2007 5:16 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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great post
Left by live expert advice on Jun 07, 2007 8:02 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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nicely written
Left by Hungary Real Estate on Jun 11, 2007 9:44 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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nicely written
Left by Educational Toys on Jul 22, 2007 5:27 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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I agree with that part
Left by jobs on Jul 24, 2007 9:41 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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I don't see it at all
Left by jew on Aug 23, 2007 9:58 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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i agree with jew
Left by jew on Aug 26, 2007 9:28 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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LOL

"I don't see it at all"

Thank you, sometimes, I'm a little slow. It took me 3 days to get your joke.
Left by Malcolm Anderson on Aug 26, 2007 5:32 PM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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What's SOA? Looked it up, says its Search Oriented Architecture. OMG!!! It's come that far....
Left by jews on Aug 28, 2007 6:47 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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"Thank you, sometimes, I'm a little slow. It took me 3 days to get your joke."

hehe, thank you ^^
Left by jew on Aug 29, 2007 6:32 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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I wonder if it has anything with the term invisible web?
Left by kasamba on Oct 02, 2007 4:45 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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i agree- thank
Left by nir on Apr 27, 2008 1:40 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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I have found it useful to look for the invisible structures
Left by h1n1 on Apr 29, 2009 10:44 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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Oriented Architecture is not invisble one.....
Left by פוליש on Aug 10, 2009 4:43 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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the point of a stand up meeting, is to provide an invisible structure for keeping those status
Left by ביטוח רכב on Aug 31, 2009 8:06 AM

# re: What "Invisible" Structures Do You See
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Keeping the team apprised as to each others status is the obvious point of a stand up meeting, but what else does a stand up meeting make happen?
Left by Malcolm Anderson on Sep 01, 2009 6:35 AM

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