Our Blog Excerpts Savings Contact


Dorset House Publishing
High-Quality Books on Software Engineering and Management.  Since 1984.
dorsethouse.com > features
Features       Excerpts       Interviews


iDH Sign-Up

Get Our e-News
Delivered by FeedBurner

The Dorset House Quarterly Interviews

Gerald M. Weinberg
Author of Quality Software Management, Vol. 4: Anticipating Change

ISBN: 978-0-932633-32-3  
©1997  504 pages   hardcover  
$44.95 (plus shipping)

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?

WEINBERG: 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.

DHQ: 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 start—and 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.

DHQ: 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.

DHQ: 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?

WEINBERG: They must learn to be negotiators. Anybody can fantasize systems that nobody can possibly build; we cannot be successful building unnegotiated fantasies.

DHQ: 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.

DHQ: Your Website is up and running at www.geraldmweinberg.com. What sorts of activities are you involved with online?

WEINBERG: 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.

The following Q&A's are only available here, on www.dorsethouse.com!

DHQ: 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?

WEINBERG: 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 things—just like other things, even in their uniqueness—and then we'll do a lot better job of building reasonable quality into our software.

DHQ: 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.

DHQ: 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.

DHQ: 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 software—languages, 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.

DHQ: Thanks, Jerry!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button





COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The material contained in this file may be copied or distributed freely, provided that the material is copied or distributed in its entirety, including this Copyright Notice. This material is Copyright © 2002 by Dorset House Publishing Co., Inc. No use may be made of the material without acknowledgment of its source: Dorset House Publishing Co., http://www.dorsethouse.com, info@dorsethouse.com, New: 3143 Broadway, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10027 USA. Additional rights limitations apply, as presented in the Legal Disclaimer posted at http://www.dorsethouse.com/legal.html.






New:3143 Broadway, Suite 2B  New York, New York 10027  USA
1-800-DH-BOOKS or 212-620-4053, fax 212-727-1044

Copyright © 1996-2008 by Dorset House Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved.
Home | Blog | Savings | Stores | Features | Titles | Authors | Subjects | Orders | About | Contact | Legal