Adrian Mowat | 1 Aug 13:10 2007

Blog post for discussion

Hi all,
 
I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it might interest this group...
 
 
In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used is that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using it.
 
I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.
 
Thoughts?
 
Cheers
 
Adrian
 
 
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Tim Ottinger | 1 Aug 15:08 2007
Picon

Re: Blog post for discussion

Ah, I don't know.  I have about 14 IDEs on my linux laptop. Many of them for python,
a few cross-language, two for Java.   

I think that it may be hard for some to leave their first girlfriend.  I can understand how some people first
learn Java or C or Modula and can't think about other languages objectively  -- they identify the rush of
programming with the tools and languages that let them do it. I don' think it's imprinting, just
identifying.  If you are a good C++ programmer, it may take a while for you to realize that you're a good
*programmer* and that some languages (most!) are more fun and productive than C++.  

I think people make a false big deal out of it.  It's not the language or the ide, but they don't know that. 
Leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar is sometimes rough. Remember the first time you joined an XP
project after years of (more or less) personal success in waterfall?  Or when you switched editors the
first time? Or, if you have done it, when you changed careers?  

Tim

----- Original Message ----
From: Adrian Mowat <mowat27 <at> googlemail.com>
To: extremeprogramming <at> yahoogroups.com; scrumdevelopment <at> yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 6:10:43 AM
Subject: [XP] Blog post for discussion

Hi all,

I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it might
interest this group...

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000921.html

In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature
they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used is
that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one
we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using
it.

I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation
to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.

Thoughts?

Cheers

Adrian

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Roy Morien | 1 Aug 15:23 2007
Picon

RE: Blog post for discussion

I don't know about imprinting, but I do know that most people are more comfortable using the tools that they are familiar with. This has been the 'curse ' of the IT industry from time immemorial (actually, from time memorial, because there are still many of us from 'the olden days' of the 1980's and early 1990's who remember this situation.
 
In 1993 I published an academic paper entitled "Educating Information Systems Professionals: The Tertiary Educational Challenge" at a conference in Australia. The following quotable quotes were given in that paper.
  •                   IST practitioners have often been conservative and obstructionist in their work (Nosek & Sherr, 1983;  Abbey, 1984)
  •                   There has been a continued reluctance for IST practitioners to adopt new technologies, for a variety of reasons (Nosek & Sherr, 1983;  Abbey, 1984;  Khosrowpour & Lanasa, 1989)
  •                   Experience and competence at current techniques and practices have been burdens for practitioners when faced with the need to update their skills. (Earl, 1987; Khosrowpour & Lanasa, 1989; McLanahan & Perotti, 1991)
  •                   The often narrow, technical outlook of many IST practitioners is not appreciated by managers, and more liberal  education is considered preferable. (Friedman & Greenbaum, 1984; Datamation, 1987;)
  •                   The methods and practices adopted and used by IST practitioners are rigid, bureaucratic and unacceptable to many users and clients. (Arthur, 1992)
  •               The criteria of success for IST practitioners are far removed from that applied by the users of the information systems.  Whereas the IST practitioner sees a successful outcome in terms of technical efficiencies, and technical successes, these frequently fail to include issues of usefulness, relevance, effec tiveness, or business value-added, which are the criteria of success applied by the administrative and managerial personnel in the organisation.  (Urquhart, 1993)
  •                   Some information system development methods  in use within the industry are far too rigid and inflexible, and are even described as dangerous; preventing the development of effective, timely, information systems (James, 1991; Urquhart, 1993;)
As you can see, these are quotes from papers published as far back as 1983. So this reluctance to adopt new IDE's or new methods has been commented upon and rued for over 20 years.
 
My theory is that most IT practitioners are never given any good education in management principles, in 'change management' and general business principles relating to matters of productivity.
 
Excerpting again from my paper ...
 

The I/S Analyzer [1988] states that the IST practitioner now needs skills in the following areas: Technical Skills, Human Resource Skills, Business Knowledge, Transitional Skills. It is this latter which holds particular interest. To quote the publication,

 

'Transitional skills are deemed necessary because systems professionals face drastic changes, brought about by business changes and more flexible and easy-to-use technology'.

 

'Transitional training will emphasize understanding and effectively dealing with change, migrating to new technologies, learning to work closely with people in other areas of the company, understanding organisational behaviour, and broadening technical knowledge.'

 

Urquhart [1993] concludes that

 

'Given the documented failure of projects and evidence of communication problems in the software definition stage, ... strengthening developers' personal skills would make at least as a valuable a contribution to project success as the adoption of system development methodologies'.

 

Can anyone tell me of their college or university undergraduate, and graduate, courses where these variety of 'soft' skills are taught? Even after having been a university teaching academic in an IS / IT school for over 20 years, I cannot point to a single course that includes these skills ... obviously my view cannot be especially universal.
 
And I would dearly love to be able to compile a list of colleges and universities who actually teach any variety of agile development and agile project management in their IS / IT / CS / MIS courses. I would be very happy to receive any such information.
 
Regards,
Roy Morien

 

 


To: extremeprogramming <at> yahoogroups.com; scrumdevelopment <at> yahoogroups.com
From: mowat27 <at> googlemail.com
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 12:10:43 +0100
Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Blog post for discussion

Hi all,
 
I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it might interest this group...
 
 
In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used is that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using it.
 
I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.
 
Thoughts?
 
Cheers
 
Adrian
 
 


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Cory Foy | 1 Aug 15:30 2007

Re: Blog post for discussion

> In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature
> they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used is
> that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one
> we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using
> it.

How many people who use Windows switched their start menu to "Classic" 
mode as soon as they got XP? I don't think that's because of impression, 
I think it's because making usable UIs is difficult, and once people are 
used to them, they don't want to have to invest the time to have to 
learn a new paradigm.

Another example is that, in the new Office, they use this ribbon bar 
concept. I still can't figure out how to do half the stuff I used to do, 
but I've talked to people who say they've found features they never knew 
was there.

Changing IDEs for a new language usually is a lot easier then changing 
IDEs for the same language. That's not as much of a problem in the .NET 
world, but in Java you have choices, and people get used to them.

> I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation
> to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.

And I think that dovetails to my last sentence. People have difficulty 
adapting to new ways of doing things they are already doing. But taking 
a new project and adapting XP, or a new IDE, or a new language, provides 
that natural break point to let people explore a little more.

--

-- 
Cory Foy
http://www.cornetdesign.com

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George Dinwiddie | 1 Aug 15:52 2007

Re: Blog post for discussion


On Wed, August 1, 2007 07:10, Adrian Mowat wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it might
> interest this group...
>
> http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000921.html
>
> In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature
> they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used
> is
> that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one
> we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity
> using
> it.
>
> I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation
> to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the
> benefits.
>
> Thoughts?

I don't think imprinting has anything to do with it, nor do I think that
imprinting is a straightforward and simple as you suggest above.  (I
haven't read the blog post.)

In any event, people get stuck on things other than the first thing they do.
Virginia Satir said, "Familiarity exerts a powerful pull. What we have
observed and experienced day after day exerts a powerful influence. Most
people will choose the familiar, even though uncomfortable, over the
unfamiliar, because of that power."

 - George

--

-- 
  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   * George Dinwiddie *                      http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
   Software Development                    http://www.idiacomputing.com
   Consultant and Coach                    http://www.agilemaryland.org
  ----------------------------------------------------------------------

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Tim Ottinger | 1 Aug 17:10 2007
Picon

Re: Blog post for discussion

Good example.  A lot of people get Windows with their first computer, and never learn a second operating
system. I've noticed that people who had trouble acclimating to computers with windows fear that it will
be just as hard to switch to Mac or Linux or whatever, because they don't realize that they've learned to use
GUIs already, and they've learned to use computers already, and that's separate from the investment in
windows.  I found switching to be mostly trivial, and mostly beneficial, and not so hard.  OTOH, my first OS
was TRS-80, third was CP/M  and Windows was fifth or sixth.

But when we think about people not switching IDEs or languages, consider the tenacity with which people
cling to their Windows, and the foolishness therein.

----- Original Message ----
From: Cory Foy <usergroup <at> cornetdesign.com>
To: extremeprogramming <at> yahoogroups.com
Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 8:30:10 AM
Subject: Re: [XP] Blog post for discussion

> In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature
> they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The example used is
> that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one
> we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using
> it.

How many people who use Windows switched their start menu to "Classic" 
mode as soon as they got XP? I don't think that's because of impression, 
I think it's because making usable UIs is difficult, and once people are 
used to them, they don't want to have to invest the time to have to 
learn a new paradigm.

Another example is that, in the new Office, they use this ribbon bar 
concept. I still can't figure out how to do half the stuff I used to do, 
but I've talked to people who say they've found features they never knew 
was there.

Changing IDEs for a new language usually is a lot easier then changing 
IDEs for the same language. That's not as much of a problem in the .NET 
world, but in Java you have choices, and people get used to them.

> I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation
> to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.

And I think that dovetails to my last sentence. People have difficulty 
adapting to new ways of doing things they are already doing. But taking 
a new project and adapting XP, or a new IDE, or a new language, provides 
that natural break point to let people explore a little more.

-- 
Cory Foy
http://www.cornetdesign.com

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Adrian Mowat | 1 Aug 17:58 2007

Re: Blog post for discussion

I find there are two groups of people.  Those who think in terms of
capability and those who think in terms of actions.

People who think about capability understand that an application *ought* to
be able to perform a given function and spend their time trying to figure
out how to do it.  People who thing in terms of actions are driven by those
features of a program they know how to use and either fear to dig deeper or
it does not occur to them to try.

Those who think in terms of capabilities are much more able to adapt and
learn new applications and techniques much more quickly.

The same goes for trying to teach Agile and/or get existing teams to try new
techniques.  Some people can see there is potential to improve in the status
quo and are keen to give it a try while others are happy doing things the
way they always have and need quite a lot of persuading to change.

Adrian

On 01/08/07, Tim Ottinger <linux_tim <at> yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>   Good example. A lot of people get Windows with their first computer, and
> never learn a second operating system. I've noticed that people who had
> trouble acclimating to computers with windows fear that it will be just as
> hard to switch to Mac or Linux or whatever, because they don't realize that
> they've learned to use GUIs already, and they've learned to use computers
> already, and that's separate from the investment in windows. I found
> switching to be mostly trivial, and mostly beneficial, and not so hard.
> OTOH, my first OS was TRS-80, third was CP/M and Windows was fifth or sixth.
>
> But when we think about people not switching IDEs or languages, consider
> the tenacity with which people cling to their Windows, and the foolishness
> therein.
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Cory Foy <usergroup <at> cornetdesign.com <usergroup%40cornetdesign.com>>
> To: extremeprogramming <at> yahoogroups.com<extremeprogramming%40yahoogroups.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 8:30:10 AM
> Subject: Re: [XP] Blog post for discussion
>
> > In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first
> creature
> > they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> > developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools. The example used
> is
> > that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the
> one
> > we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity
> using
> > it.
>
> How many people who use Windows switched their start menu to "Classic"
> mode as soon as they got XP? I don't think that's because of impression,
> I think it's because making usable UIs is difficult, and once people are
> used to them, they don't want to have to invest the time to have to
> learn a new paradigm.
>
> Another example is that, in the new Office, they use this ribbon bar
> concept. I still can't figure out how to do half the stuff I used to do,
> but I've talked to people who say they've found features they never knew
> was there.
>
> Changing IDEs for a new language usually is a lot easier then changing
> IDEs for the same language. That's not as much of a problem in the .NET
> world, but in Java you have choices, and people get used to them.
>
> > I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an
> organisation
> > to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the
> benefits.
>
> And I think that dovetails to my last sentence. People have difficulty
> adapting to new ways of doing things they are already doing. But taking
> a new project and adapting XP, or a new IDE, or a new language, provides
> that natural break point to let people explore a little more.
>
> --
> Cory Foy
> http://www.cornetdesign.com
>
> To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming <at> eGroups.com<extremeprogramming%40eGroups.com>
>
> To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
> extremeprogramming-unsubscribe <at> eGroups.com<extremeprogramming-unsubscribe%40eGroups.com>
>
> ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> __________________________________________________________Ready for the
> edge of your seat?
> Check out tonight's top picks on Yahoo! TV.
> http://tv.yahoo.com/
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>
> 
>

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com 
gregbalajewicz | 1 Aug 18:42 2007
Picon

Re: Blog post for discussion

Well, people are busy. 

Why learn a new IDE (for the same platform/language!) if the one I 
already know works well? I spent years learning how to be eficient in 
it, why do it all over again?

that I think is the major factor. 

--- In extremeprogramming <at> yahoogroups.com, "Adrian Mowat" 
<mowat27 <at> ...> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
> 
> I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it 
might
> interest this group...
> 
> http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000921.html
> 
> In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first 
creature
> they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools.  The 
example used is
> that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to 
the one
> we have always used and are still trying to maximise our 
productivity using
> it.
> 
> I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an 
organisation
> to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the 
benefits.
> 
> Thoughts?
> 
> Cheers
> 
> Adrian
> 
> 
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>

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ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com 
William Pietri | 1 Aug 19:13 2007

Re: Blog post for discussion

George Dinwiddie wrote:
> In any event, people get stuck on things other than the first thing they do.
> Virginia Satir said, "Familiarity exerts a powerful pull. What we have
> observed and experienced day after day exerts a powerful influence. Most
> people will choose the familiar, even though uncomfortable, over the
> unfamiliar, because of that power."
>   

That's sure the truth.

At the same time I've been teaching myself the whole Ruby on Rails 
thing, I've been teaching a friend Java and TDD. Both of us have years 
of programming experience, and we're both used to being highly 
productive. Jumping into an entirely new toolset can be terribly 
frustrating: nothing is comfortable, and it feels like it takes a 
million years to get anything done.

Because I've been observing him learning stuff I know well, I can see 
that he's not actually being so unproductive, especially given his pairs 
keep him moving along pretty well. But I can see why he feels so slow. 
He never gets into a flow state, and every damned little thing is a 
struggle instead of a joy.

For both of us, the pain is worth it, as we're trying to achieve 
something. But the experience has given me new appreciation for how hard 
agile adoptions are, especially when somebody's motivation is external, 
not internal.

William

--

-- 
William Pietri - william <at> scissor.com - +1-415-643-1024
Agile consulting, coaching, and development: http://www.scissor.com/
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ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com 
J. B. Rainsberger | 1 Aug 23:04 2007
Picon

Re: Blog post for discussion

Adrian Mowat wrote:

> I just read this article on a blog I subscribe to and I think it might
> interest this group...
> 
> http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000921.html 
> <http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000921.html>
> 
> In summary, if has been found that animals "imprint on the first creature
> they see shortly after birth" and the author of the post argues that
> developers have a similar reaction to trying new tools. The example used is
> that we might be reluctant to try a new IDE because we are used to the one
> we have always used and are still trying to maximise our productivity using
> it.
> 
> I believe we often see a similar effect when trying to get an organisation
> to try new Agile ideas - no matter how hard we work to explain the benefits.
> 
> Thoughts?

Yes. I can't get past a fallacy in his argument, specifically:

"It's impossible to understand the alternatives when you can't muster 
the energy to get past your own software imprinting. You can't 
rationally compare alternatives with no experience in the alternatives, 
and software imprinting robs you of that vital experience."

Software imprinting does not necessarily rob me of the experience of 
alternatives. I may have to work harder to overcome my own imprinting, 
but that's a long way different from being robbed of the experience of 
alternatives. Moreover, the tendency to stay with what's familiar is a 
personality type, not a universal tendency. Some people are the 
opposite, choosing change for its own sake. Those folks have a tougher 
time settling down with any one experience.

So while I agree that we need to be aware of our own imprinting, I don't 
think it represents a roadblock we can't overcome. I don't know how to 
help someone else see past their own imprinting, except to make them 
aware it's happening, then wait.

Take care.
--

-- 
J. B. (Joe) Rainsberger :: http://www.jbrains.ca
Your guide to software craftsmanship
JUnit Recipes: Practical Methods for Programmer Testing
2005 Gordon Pask Award for contribution Agile Software Practice

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