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What Do Twitter and Architecture Have in Common?

by Hal on March 30, 2009

in agile, design

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Agile software development is known by its different variants, most notably Scrum, Extreme Programming and Function Driven Development. I was reading up on Twitter for some posts I'm planning for Web 2.0 project management when I came across this quote from a recent Twitter Blog post:

Pair programming has helped us achieve more than just higher quality code and better code readability. This methodology is also about more intense and focused work sessions, automatic code reviews, and better tests. Pair programming also develops better personal relationships and improved communication which has meant a lot.

It's refreshing to hear this. I know it works. I've seen it work. I just don't see many people writing about it.

Collaborate with people closest to the "real work."

I've been encouraging architects and engineers to adopt pair design in the building projects. We've had some small experiments between engineers and trade detailers to create construction details. The efforts were successful, but the common sense is that two at one keyboard is unproductive, or worse. They just might talk about March Madness rather than design some aspect of the mechanical system.

At Lean Project Consulting we have adapted the lean construction approach to the design setting. Pair design is just one aspect of an approach we call Target Value Design. One tenet of lean approaches is to collaborate, particularly with people closest to the "real work." In the case of design, the trade detailers, those who generally prepare shop drawings, are a lot closer to the real work than are the engineers and architects. The detailers usually come from the field. They've done the work themselves. They might be a foreman for the upcoming project. Pairing an engineer with a detailer results in far better design. But it doesn't end there.

Pair design leads to fewer RFIs.

Pair design results in more constructable designs by incorporating not only know how, but first-hand knowledge of the people who will do the work. That knowledge is priceless. It allows the designers to focus on the details the particular installers need rather than the usual details that the engineers working alone put to paper. One bonus is a significant reduction in RFIs. Pair design is a win all around.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe Ely March 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm

This is literally “elbow to elbow”, right, Hal??

2 Hal March 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

You got it, Joe. The process is amazing. Two people, one key board, great design.

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