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A tale of two processes

(this is NOT transportation related! Skip if so inclined).

During my first year at A Company, I worked with one other developer, who, although in Austin, wasn't physically co-located. Because we didn't have an office. There were 2 of us in Austin; he worked in his house; I worked in my garage. (Like the Fonz!).

How did we manage to communicate? Well, on IM, mostly; sometimes on the phone if time-critical or hard to explain; once a month or so in person (we'd ride our bike to the other guy's 'office', actually). Other tools we used? Bug reports; emails; the typical slate. With the other two developers at the company (in Virginia)? Same story, although less often (didn't work as closely with them): IM most of the time, phone when necessary, in person when no other choice (once or twice a year to do some heavy whiteboarding, perhaps). Who told us to work this way? We did. The other guy and me.

Lately, at A Company, there's guys insisting on a new process. It mandates a meeting, in person, every single morning, at the same time each day, in front of a big section of wall with a bunch of post-it-notes. It as a matter of practice basically requires that communication be done in-person (heavily disparaging the use of tools - even IM and bugtrackers). It requires that people work pretty much at the same velocity all the time - no matter how inspired you might be one day or blocked the next. It requires a fairly non-flexible work schedule. It heavily encourages the same level of documentation on all features (index cards). Who told us to work this way? They did. (Not me, obviously).

Which one of these processes do you think calls itself Agile? Which one claims to respect self-organized teams? Which one supported flexible work environments - where the other developer (not me) would sometimes take off and hit Barton Springs, where I (me) would often take the laptop other places with wifi and work? Which one's self-image better fits with the idea of being stuck in an office from 9-5 every single day? Which one actually does, in practice?


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Yeah. My sis-in-law runs a company with 24 part-time employees, most of them local mothers with growing children who work from home and fit the work in around their daily schedule looking after the kids.

All the work is done via the internet (managing the PLoS journals, as it happens) and my sis-in-law communicates with her staff via IM almost exclusively.

Without the flexibility of the working conditions, it would have been fair more difficult to find a workforce and build the business.

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