John Steel, “Perfect Pitch”

I’m reading Jon Steel’s Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business, and, like Nick Sieger’s remarks about jazz, some of it seems uncannily relevant to programmers. There’s even a reference to “pair advertising”:

There’s a reason why copywriters and art directors work in pairs, and it’s not because writers can’t draw and art directors are illiterate. Ideas get uncovered more quickly when people dig together. And the ideas get better much more quickly when they are shared and debated by a small group of people who like and respect each other.

Words for every shop to live by. Steel also resounds Obie Fernandez’s remarks about the importance of being willing to say “no” to a contract if you aren’t going to be able to do your best work or be proud to put the project in your portfolio, and devotes a whole chapter to Tom Preston-Werner’s conceptual algorithm of setting aside dedicated thinking time.

For anyone else suffering withdrawal symptoms from the stimulating and wide-ranging discussions at RubyFringe, this could be just the book.

Waterfall as smokescreen and the surprisingly long history of XP

I was reading the ThoughtWorks blogs and found a neat reference to Craig Larman’s keynote speech at Agile India 2006. Larman discussed the oft-repeated statement that agile is not suited to large defence projects, but countered from Sapolsky’s 1972 book on the history of the Polaris system, that “critical path analysis and PERT charts were used as a smokescreen to placate senior management while engineers got on with their iterative development process”. (Quoting the blog entry, not the original book.)

Here’s a further link to a paper he co-wrote in 2003 which chronicles iterative development going back into the 1930s and something very like XP popping up in 1957.