Picasso vs. Cezanne: Experimental Innovation and Software Development

© "L'homme à la pipe" de Cézanne et "Le fumeur" de Picasso/ ©The Samuel Courtauld Trust, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery - Londres© succession Picasso 2009

In 2006, Wired Magazine published an article entitled “What Kind of Genius Are you?” The article highlights the work of economist David Galenson (currently a professor at the University of Chicago). Galenson is famous for postulating that artists fall into two classes: Conceptualists and Experimentalists. Conceptualists innovate radically, rapidly, and usually at early ages. The Wired article calls Picasso the archetype of Conceptual Innovation. Picasso upended modern art by inventing Cubism in his early 20’s. From the Wired article: (more…)

Always Forward, Never Straight

Hiking as a metaphor for lean startup software development.

“Over.”

“Over.”

“Around.”

“Over.”

I’d come upon a couple of older men hiking up Katahdin’s Chimney Pond Trail and it took me a few seconds to figure out just what was going on. The lead hiker methodically but expertly picked his way up the path, stepping over rocks or walking around them. He narrated as he did so and his partner followed his lead — stepping where he was shown, in the way he was shown. (more…)

Cascading to the Bottom: Waterfall vs Agile Software Development

What are you doing? Stop it. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself!

But seriously, why are you doing that? Waterfall development, defined loosely as frontloading all specifications and performing all development with little-to-no iteration or deviation from the aforementioned specs, is the Prohibition of development methodologies. It works great on paper, but in practice you end up blind from drinking bathtub gin.

All your hopes and dreams (likely including your job and retirement fund) end up dashed on the rocks of Iguazu and you’re just left there floating in the frothy bubbling water in your nice work chinos, and your iPhone is soaked, and your ironic ‘70s polyester tie is never going to be the same.

All this could have been avoided. You could be sitting pretty right now, collecting your profit share, dry, playing Minecraft in your office where no one can see you, but you had to go with the Waterfall firm.

Let me tell you what went wrong. It really boils down to just two things. Things that seem obvious in retrospect, I’m sure, but they wreak havoc in the moment.
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