Want me dead? Build me a mansion.

I’ll be dead soon. I’ve been out in the cold rain for three hours. Hypothermia is setting in.

You try to sell me a mansion. You show me the plot plan and the floor plan; you did a lot of planning up front. You brag about the foundation, firm and solid, ready to last centuries. The infrastructure is excellent: all the best wiring, plumbing, heat, and air conditioning. Twelve bedrooms, six bathrooms, servants’ quarters. Hot tubs. Pool. Very impressive. Well done.

But I just died. All I needed was shelter.
"Building software is like building a house. You start with a strong foundation. Then you build one floor at a time--you can’t build the second floor without the first floor. You need excellent infrastructure--things like plumbing and wiring. Finally, you need a solid roof."

Building software is best done iteratively and incrementally. Fill a need, get it done, and give it to your customer. Fill another need, make it better, get it done, and give it to your customer again.

The “it’s like building a house” metaphor is broken. Building a house can be done as incrementally as software:

  • I need protection from hypothermia. Build me a lean-to to keep me dry and protected from the wind. Done.
  • I need something a little more durable and warmer. Build (or buy) me a tent. Done.
  • I need a place to stay for the summer. Build me a cabin. Maybe with a sauna. Done.
  • I’ll be staying for the winter. Build me a brick house with a fireplace. Done.
  • I’ll be working in the city. Build me a townhouse with modern facilities. Done.
Do not build me a palace, from the foundation up. By the time you’re done, I’ll be dead, and you’ll be too late.

(Image from SurvivalJunction.com)



I led two sessions at this year’s Mobile Camp Boston on February 19: one on mobile consumer identity, and the other on agile software development.

Give them what they want: mobile consumer identity
We talked about knowing your mobile customers.  The most important question for you to ask your customers is, would you buy my product? Followed by, why or why not?  We discussed ways to identify your mobile customers as individuals, and ways to understand their wants, needs, and desires, with examples from my work at Nokia.

Use Agile for mobile and be awesome!
This was the fourth edition of my Agile for Mobile presentation.  We improvised a discussion around Agile and Scrum.  Why do we value Agile? What are the Agile behaviors we use in our work?  Which practices work for us?  What has worked for me, what should you try?   (Agile talks from previous years: 2008, 2009, 2010)

Thanks to everyone who attended my sessions, and everyone who attended the Mobile Camp and helped make it happen.

(Photo from Mobile Camp Boston web page)


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