Agile development – does it work outside of software development?

Agile Manifesto reads, in its entirety, as follows:[1]

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

I was researching productivity tools today and found myself once again in the Google Apps Marketplace. That’s because I’m living the Google Lifestyle and work extensively in Google apps all day long (and usually nights and weekends as well).

On page two in the project management category of the Google Apps Marketplace I found a company with a tool called Pivotal Tracker. My interest in the tool itself was because of the foundation Pivotal uses in Agile Development, an area of interest for my own web design and marketing work and project management in general.

Pivotal Tracker might use too many software development references for general business use but I’m not sure it would be that hard to adapt. A 60 day trial might be worth the time investment but I’ll leave that up to you. I’m not sure yet. When you look at the framework of agile development from the 2001 Agile Development Manifesto there’s a whole lot right with the approach…

~julian

Via Wikipedia

Overworked America: The Great Speedup

Media_httpwwwtruthout_atvwo

Note: I’m definitely thinking out loud here. Remember this is a notebook, not a blog.

This piece in on the gap. The ever growing gap between what we give in America in work and what we receive in return. It’s out of wack and getting wackier.

There’s a lot to celebrate about America and I’m not an apologist for being a Yank. Yet parts of our culture and our economy, even the American Dream, are demanding that we reinvent ourselves. We just need to remember that we’re particularly good at reinventing ourselves and get to it.

One critical piece of our fresh start lies in how we’re letting our government and sources of income dictate our future as if we have nothing to say about it.

The government and corporate America need to change. We are the change agents. It feels good to blame them for being greedy, power hungry bullies (and they are sometimes) but for every very valid criticism of corporate or government behavior lies a demand for us to act in our own small way to change it.

We the people are going to have to take our country back. Liberal, Conservative, Banker, Hedge Fund Speculator, Consultant, Worker, Buyer, Seller, Marketer. These seem like labels that may no longer serve us.

~ julian

via my Auntie Pat

Experiments in data/life tracking/visualization

Daytum lets you track key inputs/outputs
Daytum lets you track key inputs/outputs

I’ve been investigating tools and methods for tracking, measuring and displaying key inputs and outputs for daily life.

Why am I doing this? Because I’m sick of important things falling off the table.

Long term effect is a product of the cumulative effect of short terms actions. While it’s hard to keep a long term goal in sight, it’s usually not too difficult to keep your daily habits and actions in line with daily goals. Provided the long term and daily goals and actions are aligned that is. Ahem. Yes, it’s a simple concept we can all grasp at a young age but one that seems to require habitual reminders for throughout life. But maybe that’s just me.

This all leads to using tools to track, measure, report and manage with.

Example – Scenario ‘a’

Inputs

Sleep = 8 hours
Engergy = Good
Eating well = YES
Excercise = YES

Outputs

  • feeling of satisfaction
  • calm, assured
  • money in the bank

Example scenario ‘b’

inputs

  • stay up late
  • get drunk
  • chuck beer bottles on the front lawn while singing ABBA songs in my falsetto voice

Outputs

  • jail house
  • poor house

More

This includes work and home life. For example I want to raise the visibility of certain tasks for my young kids like doing their homework, studying, eating the right food and exercising.

I went looking for web based solutions that would also work well on paper and on my iPhone. This research netted me squat. That drove me back into the waiting arms of spreadsheets and online solutions like Google Docs and using Google Gadgets to add visual indicators to my data (like the nice dial graphic below). Spreadsheets are great for flexibility but lacking somewhat in their setup time and maintenance.

Back to more research. I finally started finding some good links. One tool I’m trying is called daytum and the user interface is by far the best out of those I’ve found. However, I came across a problem when I tried to print out pages for my kids for our refrigerator. They have no css print style sheet! Grrrrr. Printouts looks like Mosaic outputs from 1997! So if printing things out is important to you then by all means try something else.

For now I’ve moved on to evaluating me-trics.com. Like daytum, it has a social aspect, allows for multiple inputs (web/mobile, etc.) and also integrates online tools and activities like twitter, Flickr, and others which is a nice add! I’ll let you know how that goes. Er, and if they have a print style sheet.

update: I failed to report that I’ve been using RescueTime for a while. RescueTime logs your actual time spent on your computer tracking application use, web behavior and so on. Most of my frustration with it so far is that it occasionally eats huge amounts of memory (not all the time) and it’s automated categorization of activities is understandably woeful. Not finding it particularly useful but I’ll keep at it a while longer.

I’ve also spent a bit more time with me-trics and it looks like you can’t add custom questions on your own. Instead you pick survey questions that other people (or me-trics) have added. For many things this is great but I immediately found that to be a non-starter. They do offer to add items to track via e-mail which is a nice customer service but not one that really addresses my needs.