This Month’s Pattern *

48 The Music Makers

People with musical skills are disproportionately represented, sometimes extremely so, in information technology organizations.

We admit that we don’t know what proportion of the population in modern society can play a musical instrument, so we are (pun intended) singing in the dark. However, we are convinced that we can see a pattern: There is an oddly large number of musicians in the information technology industry, and they seem to congregate pronouncedly within some organizations.

Over the course of a year, each of us at the Atlantic Systems Guild comes into contact with dozens of IT organizations. Casual questioning always turns up a surprising number of musical folks within the ranks of the people we deal with—more than the number of musicians we meet in everyday life. This might be rooted in the mathematical and logical foundations of music, and how it appeals to the more technologically minded. It might be the wonderful contrast between the digital nature of the technology and the analog nature of the music itself. Or it might just be a coincidence.

We also find that some organizations are awash in musical talent. The following stories are representative.

My favorite example of this is the Landmark Graphics annual software meeting where all the software project people meet to talk about what they have been doing for the last year. Some of the meeting time is not managed by the conference committee; this is time for music, singing, and dancing, all by the employees. There are bands everywhere in the hotel, and if you aren’t in one, you can roam the corridors to find the music you like. The bands are really good. Some Landmark musicians told me that sometimes it’s a challenge to rehearse because the drummer is in Calgary and the rest of the band is in Houston. Despite the difficulties, they manage to come together and play some mean music on the big night at the annual meeting. —TRL

Borys Stokalski of Infovide-Matrix (that’s him singing at the microphone in this pattern’s photo) told us this story:

Late night in corporate offices of Infovide-Matrix, the lights are still on. One could think of yet another desperate story of meeting an impossible deadline, or completing a slide show for next day’s important customer presentation. But this story is about fun, friendship, and . . . some noise. Wojtek, the IT director of a bank, is fixing his drum kit. Lukasz, a bright software-quality consultant, tries a new riff on his bass, while Pawel, a great project manager, is tuning his beloved Gibson Les Paul Supreme. Aidan, an alliance manager of a major software vendor, has still not arrived, but when he does, his alto sax will add some great tones to the stuff they are going to try out this night. Grego, manager of the IT Governance competence center, and I discuss the details of guitar arrangement—having three guitars on stage requires some planning, to avoid sound clutter. We practice and perform whenever there is an occasion for a small gig—for the sheer fun of music and stage performance. This is the genre of After Hours Rock.

In Silicon Valley, Vittorio Viarengo, vice president of development at Oracle, also leads Jam4Dinner, an all-software-industry combo that performs as both a trio and a quintet. Several of the band’s recordings are available on its Website.

Try asking around your organization and see how many of your coworkers are musicians. We cannot guarantee you will find a complete orchestra, but you will probably be able to put together a string quartet or a rock band. Our iPods await the result.



* Each month we plan to publish here one of the patterns from our Jolt Award book, Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies — Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior. (Watch this space for a mere 86 months and you'll have read the whole thing.) The book is published by Dorset House Publishing, in the US and Hanser Verlag in Germany. It is available at Amazon and also as a Kindle book.

events

Brussels, Mastering the Requirements Process
17-Sep-2014 to 19-Sep-2014

James Robertson teaches the popular Mastering the Requirements Process. Please contact IT Works for details and registration. 

London, BA Conference Europe
22-Sep-2014 to 22-Sep-2014

Business Analysis Conference Europe James Robertson and James Archer present their tutorial Creating Innovative Solutions to Meet Business Needs. Details and registration a Details and registration at Business Analysis Conference Europe 2014.

London, BA Conference Europe
23-Sep-2014 to 23-Sep-2014

The Business Analysis Conference Europe is held in central London. This year Suzanne Robertson gives the keynote It’s Not What You Say, It’s What’s Heard: How Business Analysts Can Overcome Communication Barriers. Details and registration at Business Analysis Conference Europe 2014.

Brussels, MRP part 2
9-Oct-2014 to 10-Oct-2014

Brussels, Mastering Business Analysis
09-Oct-2014 to 10-Oct-2014

James Robertson teaches Mastering Business Analysis. Contact IT Works for details of this course.  

Oslo, Mastering the Requirements Process part 2
13-Oct-2014 to 14-Oct-2014

Suzanne Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process part 2. Details for this advanced class at Den Norske Dataforeningen.

Hilversum, Mastering the Requirements Process
14-Oct-2014 to 16-Oct-2014

James Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. For details please contact Adept Events. Dutch description, or in English.

Oslo, Mastering the Requirements Process
15-Oct-2014 to 17-Oct-2014

Mastering the Requirements Process with Suzanne Robertson. Contact Den Norske Dataforeignen for details. 

Rome, Mastering the Requirements Process
20-Oct-2014 to 22-Oct-2014

Rome, Mastering Business Analysis
23-Oct-2014 to 24-Oct-2014

James Robertson teaches Mastering Business Analysis. Contact Technology Transfer for details of this course.  

Hilversum, Mastering Business Analysis
10-Nov-2014 to 11-Nov-2014

James Robertson teaches the popular Mastering Business Analysis. Details from Adept Events in English or Dutch.

London, Mastering the Requirements Process
11-Nov-2014 to 13-Nov-2014

James Archer teaches Mastering the Requirements Process. For details and registration, please contact IRM UK.

Wellington, Mastering the Requirements Process part 2
24-Nov-2014 to 25-Nov-2014

Suzanne Robertson teaches Mastering the Requirements Process part 2. Details for this advanced class at Software Education.

Wellington, Mastering the Requirements Process
26-Nov-2014 to 28-Nov-2014

The ever popular Mastering the Requirements Process. For details please contact Software Education.  

Melbourne, Mastering the Requirements Process
1-Dec-2014 to 3-Dec-2014

Suzanne Robertson presents Mastering the Requirements Process. Please contact Software Education  for details and registration. 

Sydney, Mastering the Requirements Process
1-Dec-2014 to 3-Dec-2014

in depth

Win a free pass to the BA Conference Europe, London, September 22-24, 2014, normally costing £1374 to attend. This competition is sponsored by Volere and the Atlantic Systems Guild Limited.



Read Tom DeMarco's article from the July/August edition of IEEE Software: Sigil, BlueGriffon, and the Evolving Software Market.



Suzanne Robertson is one of the Agile Experts who discuss the subject of Scrum versus Kanban. The report is published by the Cutter Consortium and they have kindly made it available to readers of our web site. The lead author, Johanna Rothman, sets forth her argument that one is not necessarily better than the other; they are just different and it's up to the organization to figure out which method is best under which circumstance. In response, seven of Cutter's Agile experts discuss their views on Crossing the Agile Divide.


Tom DeMarco's speculative novel, Andronescu's Paradox is now available from Amazon or Nook.  It will be released in German 1Q2015 by Hanser Verlag. 

"This war isn't going to blow anything up, only turn everything off."



Complete Systems Analysis - the Workbook, the Textbook, the Answers by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson is now in e-book format. It is available as a Kindle book, from InformIT, or you can download a sample chapter.


Tim Lister was one of the keynote presenters during Agile 2013. Tim’s talk “Forty Years of Trying to Play Well With Others” was a big hit. In this interview Tim shares some of the highlights of his talk.
Lister, Keynote at Agile 2013Tim Lister was one of the keynote presenters during Agile 2013. Tim’s talk “Forty Years of Trying to Play Well With Others” was a big hit. In this interview Tim shares some of the highlights of his talk
was one of the keynote presenters during Agile 2013. Tim’s talk “Forty Years of Trying to Play Well With Others” was a big hit. In this interview Tim shares some of the highlights of his talk - See more at: http://podcasts.bigvisible.com/?p=255#sthash.G1hS2edS.dp
was one of the keynote presenters during Agile 2013. Tim’s talk “Forty Years of Trying to Play Well With Others” was a big hit. In this interview Tim shares some of the highlights of his talk - See more at: http://podcasts.bigvisible.com/?p=255#sthash.G1hS2edS.dpuf
Tim Lister, Keynote at Agile 2013


Announcing the publication of the third edition of Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's iconic text, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams.  The book is available now from Amazon or directly from Addison Wesley. See press release on Business Wire.



Read Tom DeMarco's essay from the July/August issue of Software Magazine.  It's entitled, Bells, Whistles, Power, and the Requirements Process.



In this podcast James speaks of his experience in the profession of architecture and how it provides inspiration for his work on innovation and creativity. He also discusses the role of the business analyst in agile teams. Listen to the podcast.


There are now seven books by Guild authors available as ebooks, either as Nook Books or as Kindle Books.  



See what all the fuss is about. Tom DeMarco's article in IEEE Software seems to have annoyed practically everyone: "Software Engineering, an idea whose time has come and gone?"


Shane Hastie's interview with the authors and book excerpt: Mastering the Requirements Process on InfoQ.


The preparation course for the IREB "Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering" is now available as video training. Learn at home or any other place. Including questionnaires to prepare you for the multiple choice test.



Mastering the Requirements Process, third edition Getting Requirements Right is now available as a Kindle Book, Nook Book, or in traditional paper.



A Sci-Fi novel from Tom DeMarco: Andronescu’s Paradox.  Could this be the Apocalypse we’ve all been dreading?  Or has the nineteenth century just returned for an encore?  Click to find out.



The Guild's Jolt Award book, Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies is now available in a Kindle edition.


Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's perennially popular book Peopleware is now available in a Kindle Edition.


Tom DeMarco provides a video commentary about the Adrenaline Junkies book project. Learn how this Jolt Award-winning book came about.


IEEE Software magazine has selected "Provoking Creativity: Imagine What Your Requirements Could Be Like" by Neil Maiden, Alexis Gizikis and Suzanne Robertson as one of the Top Picks for influential articles over the 25 years of IEEE Software. Download pdf.