Sunday, January 21, 2007

All for one…

A great part of Agile is the blurred lines between roles and cube walls. Hands down, my favorite part about Agile is co-location. Walking over to a developer's or business analyst’s desk for a quick chat is invaluable. Impromptu brainstorming coupled with reality checks, you can't beat it! I’m not 'just' a designer – I'm a teammate. If I see a gap I can fill, I fill it.

Recently on a project we had a pretty big, new feature set coming into an iteration. I couldn’t do a whole lot design wise on it – it was almost all back-end and middle tier work, and it was going to take the whole team to get it going. I saw something I thought I could do myself, so I did. In a waterfall process there's no way a designer gets to look under the covers of the code base, much less alter code and check it in. In Agile that's exactly what we allow ourselves to do. It may have taken me a lot more time than an experienced developer, but it got done and tested. In prior iterations I was able to sit with the developers and tweak look and feel as needed with them, so I had some idea of what was going on and I wanted to learn, so I did just that.

The QA testers on my team have done the same with me. They come with a print out of the design and we sit down and write test cases together, based on the interaction designs. If I want something to fade in, it's marked a bug if it doesn't happen. If the application doesn’t look like the design, it's marked as a bug. After I learned how to change some of the look and feel issues in the app myself, those bugs were assigned directly to me.

It is my personal feeling that the days of the single disciplined mindset are over. You have to be able to do more than one thing to make it. Here's my favorite example: Troy Brown of The New England Patriots. This man has played Wide Receiver, Defensive Back and Kick Returner, in the same game, for entire seasons. He is truly versatile and unselfish. He is a true teammate... and he has three Super Bowl rings to show for it.

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