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Stories of Software and Systems Engineering

Better: Improving Software Process Through Blood, Faith, Myth and Legend

Better

We all so desperately want to be good that we spend much of our reverie in anguish over not being good enough. Then spend our waking lives in a struggle to be better. But Better is expensive with a price some of us are unwilling to pay. In the parade of humanity the selection of the good from the average …

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Moral Strength: Learning from Nietzsche and the Wolf

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Morality is a muscle. In some it never gets a chance to develop – atrophied from birth by spineless role models. In others it develops through childhood and the idealistic days of youth, but withers in the face of the so-called pragmatics of life, leaving us unable to exert any moral force at all when the situation desperately calls for …

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Oarsmen: The Image of a Performing Team

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What does teamwork look like? If you are unsure take a moment, sit by a river and wait. You’ll soon see. Oarsmen They rowed early through the morning mist Barbarians in silence except for the muffled beat of wood on rollick and with each stroke their oars lifted in perfect rows to catch the water and pull through then surfaced …

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Dolça Barcelona: How Systems Thinking Saved History

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Most civilizations plan on eternal life but somehow it never pans out that way. We prove it every time we uncover a Pompeii or a new Atlantis and dig through the entrails of a lost world listening for the cries of the dead. Its disappointing because, you know, it’s going to happen to us. Worse, more likely than not, our …

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New: Reflecting on the Creative Process

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The mind is a place full of wonder but so few people realize its potential. Life intervenes. A partner, children, a mortgage and work. The need for survival that chains you to someone else’s ideas. But what would happen if your mind was allowed free reign, to follow its bliss? To create something new of your own choosing. With no …

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Story: Using the Patterns of Myths and Legends to Build Better Systems

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The current fashion of eliciting software requirements by collecting user stories is pathetically superficial. The educated use of stories has a much deeper purpose in systems engineering, and that is to reveal the fundamental principles that drive successful systems development. The story patterns of myth and legend hold eternal wisdom known since the fall of man into the field of …

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Extreme Review: A Tale of Nakedness, Alsatians and Fagan Inspection

The Luncheon on the Grass, Edouard Manet

Two naked babies amble across a busy freeway. Trotting after them is a guy in a suit. The guy is me. Looking back on that day it’s clear that this was an omen, for within the hour I was to encounter extreme review and understand why, that for systems engineers, public nakedness is sometimes a good thing. The Approach Flying …

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New Learning and the Post Apocalyptic Fate of the University

New Learning

The uptake of web enabled learning technologies is far too slow in educational institutions. This will inevitably mean extinction for some. If our universities are the dinosaurs then the coming meteor is the “category killer course”. The university course that is so good, so cheap, so universally available, so universally respected and so universally job procuring that it wipes out …

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On Standards and Art

Standards And Art6

If you comply with a quality standard does this mean you’ve made a quality product? If you comply with a safety standard is your system is safe? Probably not. To produce quality you’ve got to know what people want and that can take a lifetime of experience. To guarantee safety you must have seen a lot of failures and that’s …

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Deus Ex Machina and Speaking Truth to Power

BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Drilling Rig

What to do when people are put in harm’s way because solid, technical advice on designing, deploying and operating complex systems is ignored by decision makers not competent in the target technology? Does the ethical responsibility for the consequences pass to the decision maker somehow absolving the advisor?  Or should engineers forswear company loyalty for their higher duty to preserve human safety? At what …

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