Blogging has always been a challenge for me. Sitting down over coffee and having a conversation…. well that’s really natural and I do that effortlessly. I’m not there yet with writing. So, here we go again.
I write this blog sitting in the KLM lounge at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam on my way to Beijing (yeah, being a consultant definitely has its up-sides). There are a few topics I’ve stored up in the months since I’ve written my last blog, and I’ll be writing about them soon:
- Fixed price contracts and agile methods,
- Creating a culture of safety,
- The importance of integrity,
- A 9-week bootcamp program for creating high performance teams,
- Programming for old farts,
- Whatever I learn at the XP conference in a couple of weeks,
- The awesome-est way to locate the bottleneck in your system,
- Playing world of warcraft with my 6-year old daughter,
- The state of Agile in Egypt,
- Lean start-ups,
- The Culture Engine – the book and it’s progress,
Now I’ll leave you with something really cool I recently read that I hope you find as useful as I have. But first a little background: I cringe whenever I hear the word “measurements”. I have flashes of huge excel spreadsheets, entering the number of minutes I’ve been working on a particular task, and a stochastics final back in college. So, it is with great hesitance that I picked up a book on measurements on a recommendation from my good friend Ruud.
So far it is an interesting read. The author starts out giving some stories of some pretty remarkable measurements that were very light-weight but clever (for example Eratosthenes approximating the circumference of the earth from shadows and the distance between my hometown (Alexandria) and Aswan). And here is the gold nugget:
If you take a sample of 5 people in your organization and ask them the same question, then the median of your entire population is within the interval represented by the largest and smallest numbers in your sample with 93% confidence.
Here is what it means practically for me:
If I have a question, such as, “how much time do we spend on defects every week”, I can ask 5 developers at random in my organization and they answer 5 hours, 10 hours, 30 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours then we know a huge amount. We know the median lies between 4hrs and 30hrs with 93% confidence. I don’t know about you – but that is amazing! And that little rule will allow me to be able to have some really great discussions with my teams and clients.