Agile Fonts.

I’m angry at Eric. And I have every right to be angry at Eric. How DARE he make a post on fishing and Agile? Everyone knows fishing is MY domain!

Nothing left to do but to be brilliant. In the game of analogy wars, I REFUSE to come in second, to anybody. Prepare to be relegated to the dustbin of history my friend!

I’m attending a conference on HTML5 right now and listening to Microsoft flunkies drone on about the beauties of CSS3, grid layouts, media queries, etc etc. (Speaking of the dustbin of history… Internet Explorer anybody?) I’m in the website business but not the graphics end of things – CSS artistry goes right over my head (or under it. The engineer part of me always sneers, “Yes, and what does it do?“) It must be said though that developers and site architects continually understate the importance of design and layout when it comes to communications, and a bad font sticks out like a plaid sportcoat. Don’t believe me? Watch the documentary Helvetica.

That’s why this chart is so brilliant. Check it out:


Beyond the humor, which is fantastic (Comic Sans for example!) – notice how, depending on your personality and the project needs, you end up in a different destination. Arial, Caslon, OCR, Gothic… whatever. It’s flexible, adaptable, artistic. Truly responsive to the needs of the customer. In short, everything Scrum is NOT.

I could put in a ton of examples here but I think you understand what I mean. Scrum is like a recipe that you must follow, step by step. It’s not a decision tree, but more of a linear series of boxes with a hard line. If you leave something out, it breaks. And the business or your development environment will, sooner or later, force you to leave something out. SOME aspect of it – developer buy-in, business input on priorities, executive sponsorship, training, or the tool of choice – will be underemphasized or omitted. So, we’ve created a SERIES process (dumb, fragile) versus a more-intelligent flowchart (smart, flexible and adaptable). The shocking secret – most Agile implementations are anything but!!!

Project managers that blindly choose one methodology like scrum without checking conditions on the ground (does this method fit the project? And the team makeup?) or modifying an approach iteratively as lessons are learned (Are we hitting a wall because the process is getting in the way?) are like people that only use one type of font, blindly, in every case. If the climate doesn’t suit Agile and Scrum methodology, there are other, perfectly valid solutions available that will give you a much better chance of success. Is it a project with fixed parameters, well understood technology and a hard timeline? Waterfall would be a good choice. Is this a cool new technology that you want to investigate but the business is not directly asking for (or will help with prioritizing?) Think about Prototypes. What about a very complex technology project involving dozens of developers in multiple groups? Spiral or other advanced methods have the edge here. For more information on this, the best book I’ve ever read on the subject is by Lawrence Peters, “Getting Results from Software Development Teams” – one of the rare MS Press books worth the paper its printed on. In my view it’s right up there with Code Complete and Peoplesoft.

So, don’t be that guy with a hammer thinking everything is a nail. Don’t think that Scrum will be the magic bullet, solving everything on your team. And for God’s sake, PLEASE don’t use Times New Roman 12 point in everything you do!!!!

About Dave

Agile consultant, loves to fly fish, and sometimes pretends its still the late 80's when hair metal bands roamed the earth.
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One Response to Agile Fonts.

  1. Eric says:

    I am pretty sure that this very blog is written in Times New Roman 12.

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