Spike Solutions – Why the world would be better if development teams use this as a default

When teams want to build new features in a software, what do they do?

Well, some teams I know, they plan. They build a big plan. BIG means at least 50 pages of non-structured text and diagrams that don’t say nothing about the real problem. And they do meetings!
After two months, they have a document baseline. And now, they can start design phase.

That’s no good!

We are living a time where delivery is not even important. Delivering new and valued features is a must.
We need to move faster. We need to understand risks.

We need to find as soon as possible if we are moving in a wrong direction.

So… we can choose the way we move!

There’s a technique / practice in eXtreme Programming called Spike Solution.

Spike solutions are used to understand a problem. They are used to help teams in estimation. You do spikes to know if something is huge, or if it’s a problem easy to solve.

Bottom line: You do spike solutions to learn faster about something.

So, if you are planning to do a new feature for your software, you have to do spikes. Together with spiking, do drawings to understand connections, to figure out more about user needs, do paper prototyping! Also minimize risks and understand non functional requirements.

How much time do you have for a spike? I would say no more than 4 cycles of pomodoros, or songdoros if you like the technique. By a cycle I mean four 25min focus +5min resting cycle and an extra 30min cycle after that. If we transform that in time, that’s no more than 10 hours of research. That’s actually 8 hours based on pomodoros + 2 hours resting giving space to your brain to mix current learning with what you already know.

Give it a try and help your team to find results faster. Don’t forget to document your findings and transform your spike at least in knowledge. At best in the beginning of a new feature! Enjoy!

en: Mixing Tomatoes with Songs? That’s a SongDoro!

Quer ver esta história em português? Siga por este post então: Songdoro! Ganhe tempo ouvindo música!

You may be aware of the pomodoro technique, a simple time management tool where you run short cycles on “full focus mode” during 25 minutes, rest 5 minutes and then you run again another cycle.

After four cycles, you have a big 30 minute break.

Repeat that and get all your things done in a funny and focused way during your day.

Simple right? It’s awesome, and it works!

How it works?

To run this you need to have a prioritized list of tasks you want to accomplish and you can use those to focus on your “pomodoris”, a.k.a. the short cycles. If some new task comes up, you add that to the bottom of the list, in a section called unplanned tasks, so you can understand what came up during your day.

I always used a kitchen timer or my cellphone timer to manage my time. Here is my kitchen timer, that I use to celebrate my pomodoris:

So far, all the same right? So here I go again.

Well, a friend of mine was talking about how he introduced the subject to a friend. He ask the guy to focus on one task while listening to a Ramones CD. No interuptions during that period. None. The guy finished one task before the CD finished. Somewhat like 30 something minutes. That’s Ramones. He was supposed to take 2 hours to do that. The guy loved!

That’s one story. Keep that in mind.

I was talking to my sister, about Power Songs. She is a runner, and she always use Power Songs to get that extra motivation. You may run listening songs, using a default or random playlist. But, you gotta have those special songs right? Well, those are your power songs!

By using a Power Song the runner can find that “instant” energy needed to finish a course. You can find some products like iPods+Nike kit with that resource or something, you can find people, like runners and bikers talking about Power Songs.

Ok?

Ok.

So…

If I use those two ideas together, I get the SONGDORO! 🙂

The idea is simple, you build playlists to focus on what you have to focus, and everytime you build a playlist, the last two songs, are your power songs.

When you listen those powersongs, you know you are at the end of a songdoro, and you gotta do what you gotta do!

And, when you listen to your break song, you stop doing and break for five minutes. My break song is Harvest Moon, from Neil Young. Duration? 5 minutes!

So, that’s the idea. 30 minutes playlist, where 25 minutes of songs + 5 min break song. The break song is always the same!

Take a look into one of my SongDoros. I’ve built a sample playlist at Groove Shark to share this. This is for one songDoro, atually I could say a “songdori”, with 25 min + 5 min break 🙂

Example: from a classic songdoro I have, the break song is Harvest Moon. My power songs in this example are:
– 12:51 from The Strokes, and
– Basket Case from Greenday.

Try it! Enjoy it!