DHQ: Anticipating Change, the fourth
volume of your QSM series, was somewhat unanticipated when the first volume was
published. What led you to add on this extra, concluding volume to the series?
What new ground needed to be covered?
I kept hearing the refrain, "This is all very nice, but just how do I get
there from here?" I thought it was a fair question, and one to which we devote
a lot of attention in our workshops. Knowing what needs to be done is not the
same as knowing enough change artistry to get it to happen.
What do you suggest for folks who haven't read the earlier volumes yet? Can we
read the series backwards?
WEINBERG: I doubt
if many of us can read backwards (literally) and make much sense, but if you mean,
"Can I read Volume N before some earlier volume?" the answer
is certainly yes. I've worked hard to make that possible, and different people
have told me it works for them. The whole process is a cycle, so it's rather arbitrary
where you startand different folks have different preferences for where
they start the series.
DHQ: How do foreign elements
impact change? How do you get one if you realize that you need one?
WEINBERG: Foreign elements wake us up to the need for change
(though, like alarm clocks, they aren't usually loved when they do it). If you
realize you need one, you've probably already had one. They're out there in the
world, and they come into our awareness if we don't work so hard to deny them.
In Volume 4, you discuss the concept of change artistry. What does a change artist
do? and in what ways is he or she different from a change agent?
WEINBERG: A change agent is appointed to make a particular change
happen, and may have the skills needed to facilitate change. A change artist has
the skills to facilitate change, and may be appointed to some task.
In Chapter 9, you apply tactical change planning to examine how plans can adapt
to shifting goals and circumstances. Describe for us the basic idea behind this
approach to planning.
WEINBERG: Woody Allen
said it best: "I can predict anything except the future." Massive strategic
planning assumes that we can predict the future with an ability that's not given
to human beings. PLASTIC planning is simply a method of planning that takes into
account our limited ability to predict the future, without judging us inferior
because we are not omniscient.
DHQ: You advocate
"building faster by building smaller" in this volume. How do developers
limit the scope of their software specifications?
They must learn to be negotiators. Anybody can fantasize systems that nobody can
possibly build; we cannot be successful building unnegotiated fantasies.
Tell us about your Problem Solving Leadership Workshop, which is held several
times a year.
WEINBERG: PSL is the first
of a series of workshops designed to develop change artists and to achieve our
software engineering dreams (or other sorts of dreams of a better world). We think
of PSL as the entry point to a life-changing sequence. The workshops are held
several times per year in Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The curriculum and other details are given on our Website, www.geraldmweinberg.com,
or can be obtained by calling Susie Brame, (503) 721-0908.
Your Website is up and running at www.geraldmweinberg.com.
What sorts of activities are you involved with online?
The Website is a reference to all our books and seminars, plus links to related
sites of interest. The most active part of the Website is the SHAPE forum (Software
as a Human Activity Practiced Effectively). In this subscription-only, edited
forum, software professionals from all over the world discuss topics of interest
and import, solving both practical and theoretical problems. On the Website, you
can see a sample thread, watch for the quote of the week every week, and learn
how to become a member.
following Q&A's are only available here, on www.dorsethouse.com!
You identify the Assumption of Fixed Requirements as the result of methodologists'
emphasis on design. What assumptions do we have about requirements, and how do
they relate to software quality?
I think we fail to relate the software world to the rest of the world in which
we live. We know that if we buy a house, for example, our needs and tastes change
over time. That's why most furniture isn't built in, why there's a prosperous
home improvement industry, and why real estate sales are far larger than computer
sales. Someday, we'll wake up to the understanding that software products are
just thingsjust like other things, even in their uniquenessand then
we'll do a lot better job of building reasonable quality into our software.
What's the most important change managers can make to anticipate change?
WEINBERG: Accept that they are not in control they way they might
like to be. It's a lot like skiing or surfing; if you're totally in control, you're
not doing it. Let go and play with gravity.
Some of your models for management behavior are based on the work of Virginia
Satir. Tell us about her and her impact on your perceptions about people.
WEINBERG: Virginia was often called "the Columbus of Family
Therapy," and her work was a large part of the basis for Neurolinguistic
Programming (NLP). When I became aware that the natural programming unit was the
team, I went to study with her to learn everything I could about small groups
working together. The software team works together to produce software; the family
works to make new people. I learned more from her about effective programming
than I did from any other person in my life, and I've tried to pass those learnings
on in forms that software people would find palatable.
In Anticipating Change, you show a graph of how the subject matter of your
books has evolved over time. How do you account for this change?
WEINBERG: Two factors. One is that other people were doing lots
of good work on the more "techie" aspects of softwarelanguages,
compilers, operating systems, etc. Two is that I was able to solve problems working
in the human areas, problems that were untouchable with "techie" solutions.