One story: "The Picture Problem: Mammography, Air Power, And the Limits of Looking" gave me quite a bit to think about, especially in light of one of my recent posts on Understanding... The Big Picture. Mr. Gladwell wrote that a physician and epidemiologist at the University Of Washington Harborview Medical Center
asked 10 board-certified radiologists to look at 150 mammograms. The radiologists did not see the same things. The story goes on to describe some of the differences and looks into other examples of seeing things differently with some added analysis.
This first got me to thinking about some of the basic differences in people on a general level. There are different perceptions to what the basic senses reveal between genders. It is an often studied, written about, and discussed topic. Most studies I have read suggest distinct emotional wiring differences. This can cause perceptions to be, at times, remarkably different. Some have suggested that while one gender perceives through the heart, the other perceives through the head.
Then there are cultural differences. I have lived in several states in my country (United States). Each one has its own, very unique culture. Sometimes these differences cause people conflict; sometimes they open their eyes to new and wonderful things. This depends upon the culture one has actually come from, and what they may have evolved their own culture to.
This then, led to my thinking about the differences on the team I work with. We share gender differences, cultural differences, and project perception differences. That is a lot of differences for a group that has, in the end, the same expected goal.
One thing that I believe has helped to lessen the risk of these differences, and increase the ability to succeed, is the agile development process we are using. Like with the gender differences and cultural differences, it takes commitment to the relationship and a desire to succeed, all the while keeping the end goal in site – communication is the key.
Agile development provides the ability to mitigate some of the risk using the Review/Retrospective process. While the tester sees things different than development, the BA sees things different than the tester or developer, management sees things differently than all three, not to mention the stakeholders and the customers… the Review/Retrospective can enable the core group to stay on the same page. Of course, like in any relationship, it takes dedication to the goal in order to accomplish the task.
Another benefit of having these differences is that it can help the entire team aware of the bigger Big Picture, the one that ultimately involves the customer. And, like in all relationships between human beings, this is not accomplished without some conflict. But, another helpful thing in agile development - that has the ability to mitigate the risk of the conflict getting out of hand – is the Sprint Goal. Since the team agrees to the defined goal of the Sprint, a decision must be made and implemented quickly in order to not adversely affect the velocity of the team.
I think that ultimately, if desired, the differences in how we see things, can produce remarkable results.