Monday, May 16, 2016

Keeping it simple.

The light switch should be our inspiration
One of the most important principles in Agile is simplicity.  I work with plenty of clever people which means we come up with plenty of complicated ways of doing things.  True innovation and progress happens when we find simple ways of doing complicated things.  This week we are covering the virtues of simplicity.

When we talk about simplicity, we are not talking about something which is simple.  We are talking about something which is simple to use, simple to work with and simple to understand.  The example I like to use most, is the electrical power grid.  When we need to put a light in a room we plug in a lamp and turn on the switch.  The technology and work that goes into getting electricity to that lamp is very complex to but to us it is simple.

Technology like smart phones, web sites and accounting software should be like the electrical power grid.  Sadly, it is not.  Microsoft technologies are great for PC’s but in order to write web applications for a phone you need Xamarin or understand HTML5 to write Windows 10 applications.  Those applications do not work on Android and iOS devices.  This is just a sample of some of the technologies which do not play nice with each other for either market or technical reasons.

The blame for this trend is very smart people who, instead of working together to create simple and elegant solutions, have split into warring tribes.  It would take an entire book to discuss the history of why this has happened.  So to the average consumer we have a layer of complexity to everything we do and it needs to stop.  Even Apple has made music players a colossal mess making it impossible for people to manage the thousands of songs in their music libraries.

I do not have any magic bullets to fix this but is up to everyone in the agile community to try and reduce this kind of complexity.  It will not be easy but neither was setting up the national power grid.
Until next time.