Monthly Archives: December 2013

About freedom of choice

In Finnish(*) there is a phrase which actually carries plenty of wisdom:

Nothing is mandatory except death and taxes.

Let’s first imagine something you’d rather not do, but someone is insisting you to participate. Take Christmas shopping for example. Your significant other would like you to join her in hours of wandering in crowded department stores, but you’d rather stay home in your pajamas and play Xbox.

Basically you have four different approaches:

  1. You go shopping, but you feel resentful and irritated. “Here I am, in this hullabaloo, even though I don’t want to, I don’t deserve this.. let’s go home already…” 
  2. You stay home playing Xbox, but you feel guilty and perhaps ashamed of yourself. “Here I am, kind of enjoying, but hey, I should be shopping… now I don’t have present for my godson… and my partner is probably angry at me..”
  3. You choose to go shopping, but not out of guilt, but perhaps because you want to spend time with your partner, and to attend to her needs of companionship and doing things together. Maybe you go shopping because you choose that your desire to buy a present to your godson is greater than your desire to relax on the sofa.
  4. You choose to stay home playing Xbox, but just because you chose to be honest to your need to relax. And at this time it was greater than your need to attend to your partner’s needs. Not because you have somehow deserved it or because your partner “doesn’t have the right to insist me to go shopping”.

At this point you probably know where I’m going with this. Whatever you do, choose either approach number 3 or 4. It may seem like a small thing, but the difference in attitude does have a big impact on your mood. And at the same time you’ll be more honest to yourself and the people around you.

The liberty to choose goes to all aspects of life. You don’t need to work for that stupid boss. You may choose to do so, but perhaps because you need the money. You don’t need to give your child a car ride to hobbies every night, but perhaps you choose to do so because you don’t want her to walk alone in the dark. Etc etc.

I know this is easier said than done, but it’s worth a try to change the attitude.

(*) And originally Benjamin Franklin said: “[…] but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”

What is scope (baby don’t hurt me)

The other night in a pub, Neil and I (and @karhatsu ) had an interesting chat about what does “scope” mean. We kind of disagreed then and I think we still do:

Maybe it’s just semantics or because I’m not a native English speaker, but I don’t agree. Let’s dive into this a little bit by first exploring the most common use case of that term: “X is out of scope“. So what does it mean when you say that something is out of scope? To me, X in this sentence is:

  • A feature (“supporting single sign-on is out of scope for now”)
  • A hardware change (“hardware changes are out of scope for you guys, they’re handled by the HW team”)
  • A certain testing type (“I’m not doing performance testing yet, it’s out of scope for this story”)

Then again, when I hear “amount of work”, I’m immediately thinking hours or days as the unit. Amount of work could be 16 hours or 2 weeks for example. But, in my opinion it’s wrong to say that scope = amount of work. There is a correlation between the scope and the amount of work needed to deliver that scope, but they’re not the same thing.



This image above tries to illustrate this difference. We have a “fixed scope” in our naive book store example but different amount of work needed between the two teams. You could also imagine that the amount of work needed to deliver that scope is variable to a single team as well.  Team A could reduce the amount of work needed by making the process better etc. You know, the usual inspect and adapt, but that’s not the point of this post.

So what, one could argue. Well, maybe it’s just semantics, but on the other hand it’s easier to communicate if the community shares same terms and concepts. At least I’m still going to be on my toes when discussing “scope” with Neil. =)