Monday, 2 November 2009

Personal Kaizen

Last Monday was my personal Kaizen day and I've been a bit late on it this month. So, what did I try in October that worked and didn't?

First off, I was sticking with vision boxes and Evo-style customer values and the experience has thus far been extremely good (see my last post). More significantly, other people in the company have been taking notice of this way of presenting the data, so it may gather some momentum and become a bit more widely used. The experiment is not yet over, and I can't comment on whether it's a success until I've successfully delivered a valuable product at the end of the project.

I also tried a Google site for communicating between members of the EMHD, but have not yet had the chance to use it: the next event I'm involved in, I'll wheel it out and see what everyone thinks. My initial reaction has been that it's a lot easier to set up than a Sharepoint and provides all of the functions that I need. I don't need a very customised experience for EMHD purposes, so it's fine just the way it is. It took about 30 minutes to get everything on there that I needed, so I reckon that's a pretty shallow learning curve and a decent return on my time. If it works that is...

I've also been trying to drive project work from our Sharepoint, which I have to say isn't proving so tractable. The best I've managed so far is to send blanket updates to everyone about changing specs, new features and tasks and so on, it's no finer grained than that. We (I?) now have a choice to make about how to integrate basic calendar functions into the planning tools we're using, which could be quite a challenge. The kinds of things I see as essential are:
  • Blocking out iterations/timeboxes
  • Attaching start/finish dates to features and tasks
  • Entering holidays, out of office days and any other non-project days for planning purposes
  • Entering similar retrospective "holes" in the project to assist analysis of the data
  • Displaying project finish dates and milestones on the calendar
There has been one other thing tried this month, and that was Python. (Yes, I should have learned this AGES ago I know...) Basically, it rocks! I particularly like dictionaries (well, the fact I can in-place initialise them: roll on C++0x for that) and decorators (although I haven't used them properly yet). I can't see it replacing Matlab for prototype code for me (well, at least for very algorithmic stuff), but it certainly has a place in my toolbox.

So, what next? Well, building on the things that are staying from last month, during November I'll be trying:
  • Project planning integration completely from a Sharepoint task list and calendar
  • Running more code through GCC on Linux to get my C++ more compliant (Dev studio, I feel you've been leading me astray...)
  • Figuring out what Jidoka means for Lean software development

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