Certified ScrumMaster

It is common for people – you know who you are – to make snide remarks about the CSM course, which is two days long, not possibly making anyone a “Master of Scrum”. I have written before to the effect that “ScrumMaster” is a role name, that the ScrumMaster is defined as a servant leader, and various other notions to the point that no one seriously believes that the newly-hatched ScrumMaster is a master of anything. Nonetheless, some posture (or do I mean postulate? no, I meant posture …) that managers all over the world are confused by the job title, at least in part because they have had the wool pulled over their eyes by nefarious CSM-mongers.

Be that as it may, I was thinking this morning, as I tried to decide whether to put my pants on one leg at a time or not, that one of my panoply of academic degrees, received at the end of eight years of college education, is called “Master of Science”. Now that you know that, I assume that you have come to the inevitable conclusion that I can single-handedly design your nuclear reactor, explain why you keep getting that rash on your nose, mix up a batch of meth from a handful of allergy pills, and discern the presence or absence of planets around a remote star by a mere glance at it.

After all, I am a Master of Science. Wait, what, you did not assume that? Then why on earth would you imagine that anyone thinks a two-day Certified ScrumMaster is a master of anything at all?

No True Scotsman

My esteemed friend J.B.Rainsberger tweeted a few days ago: “Before you give up on Agile, maybe you could try actually doing it”. I have in the past expressed similar thoughts here and elsewhere. If JB didn’t get someone replying to him about “No True Scotsman”, it was a lucky day, because sooner or later that always seems to come up. Someone does a p-baked attempt at Agile, for very small p, gets into deep trouble, blames Agile, and is informed that giving orders, not shipping any software for months on end, driving people to work impossible hours, holding five hour standup meetings, and committing acts of beastiality are emphatically not what we meant by Agile.

In the course of that discussion, the “No True Scotsman” fallacy is inevitably raised, in an effort to prove that even if I did say “deliver running tested software every couple of weeks”, never shipping at all is certainly a suitable approximation to that advice and therefore whatever they were doing certainly was Agile, and therefore it’s my fault that they and their management are all at best incompetent cowards and at worst henchmen in some evil scheme hatched by Cthulhu.

Well, no. When the doctor says to go on a low-carb diet and do some aerobic exercise three times a week, and you reduce your donut intake to ten a day while increasing your exercise by parking two slots down from the donut store, you don’t get to pull No True Scotsman out of your hip pocket (I hope that’s where it came from – I didn’t get a clear view) to explain why low carbs and exercise don’t work.

Similarly, when JB and I, and dozens of others, tell you to test your code as you go, to ship running software frequently, to work with the real business people who want your software, and to have all the necessary skills on your team to do the job, don’t come blaming us when you toss your code over the wall to some people in Elbonia, you never integrate, much less deliver, you get your planning ideas sent to you by native drums heard vaguely during a major thunderstorm, and the team consists only of you and your cat.

It’s your project. If you really try my advice and have trouble, I’ll be happy to help you. Meanwhile, your job is to get your project successful. Change what needs changing. That’s what a true Scotsman would do.

Brake Lights

If you’re driving along in smoothly-moving traffic, and you find yourself hitting the brakes every few seconds, maybe you’re following too closely.

If you’re driving along in smoothly-moving traffic, there is space in front of you, and you can read my lips, maybe you’re not going fast enough.

Boots on the Ground

There are people in those boots, young men and women being sent into danger of serious injury or possible death, by old men (and women) who face no danger themselves. When these people come back to us, they are forgotten, pushed aside, treated poorly, given inferior physical or mental care.

It’s not boots on the ground, people, it’s young men and women being exploited for someone else’s political gain. Let’s not support this euphemism for sending people out to get maimed, killed, or driven mad.

Fear- and Hate-Mongering

Since at least 9/11, perhaps before, some government officials and wannabees have played on people’s fears in order to get ahead. Terrorists, people of color, ebola, indigent and starving people from distressed lands, take your pick, you’re in great danger from them, and only by granting emergency power to the government can you be made safe.

We can torture people, because some of them might torture us. We can lock them up forever, without any kind of due process, because they might possibly be someone who wishes us harm. We can depose their leaders because we don’t like them, leaving their country in chaos, vulnerable to anyone who may rise up to take power. We can spy on everyone in the world, including our own citizens, because bad guys might make phone calls or send emails.

We allow elected officials to be bought and sold, pretending that a somewhat arms length arrangement doesn’t allow the millions of dollars going into their campaign to influence them. We let our elected officials set their own salaries, set up their own retirement, and define their own health care, while relegating everyone else to inferior plans, to change, or to nothing at all.

We spend billions on “defense” despite having had nothing to defend for decades. Call it “offense”: that’s what it is. We sell arms internationally and then pretend surprise when the material often winds up in the hands of bad guys. “Who knew that people would sell the material on? Who knew it could be stolen? Certainly not us.”

We allow most of the money to go to the people who already have money, and can’t spend anything helping people who need it. They should work their way up to success, “just as we did”. Yes, well, if the Koch brothers would lay a few million on me, I, too, could be successful.

We justify all this by working overtime to make people feel afraid, and then telling them that we can make them safer and all it costs is a huge pile of money and if they’re not doing anything bad they don’t need privacy.

Yeah, this pisses me off. It should piss you off, too. What to do about it? Well, personally, I don’t think electing a demagogue, an inexperienced brain surgeon, or a long-time political operative is going to help. What will help? I guess if I knew, I wouldn’t be so pissed off.

My Lawn

At least get the stupid snow off my lawn.