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Noteworthy: Music Genres And Software Development Methods

Noteworthy Software Development & music Methods 

Software methodologies, much like musical genres, have evolved to fill different needs and styles.
It’s an interesting read, especially if you like music, and I felt it was worth making more highly available.

The rest of the commentary (with minor editing) is Zak’s – Kurt Cagle

Disclaimer. Some people have a head injury and on recovery discover that they can play musical instruments without ever having been trained.

I visualise software project management methods as music.
                                                                       CLICK HERE 

I put it down to a period where time stretched and contracted compounded by sound/vision synaesthesia.

The leap of distorted imagination is not too big when you consider that music is simply events scheduled over time – just like projects.

But music – the highest of the aesthetics, according to Schopenhauer – is far more emotive than the engagement most of us get with work.

The argument about which project management method is better falls on my one deaf ear.

That is like arguing about the merits of one music genre over another.

At the end of the day it is all music.

You select the one that is most appropriate.
Scaled Agile: SAFe, DaD, LeSS, DSDM Dev Ops

I see this correlation between music genres and software project management methods:

The average time to record a track

Free Jazz: Kanban – The ticket pops and is played randomly
James Last: SAFe – Over-engineered Bavarian Party style with Oompah beats.

Rock – Like the Agile Manifesto men.

Ballet: DSDM – Choreography of action and music (too tightly coupled)

Sonata: ML: Model, train, deploy– Exposition, development, recapitulation

Tone Poem: Strategic support in fast transformations (First Inversion)

Below I share a simple creative technique that you can use.

Waterfall methodology is grand, complex and highly, meticulously planned in stages.

It is capable of dealing with great complexity, but for every masterwork, there were many pieces that just never quite got off the ground:
It can be the audience calling for a number, the singer and guitarist playing against each other.

In business terms it may be customer to business, product owner to team, tester to coder, DevOps to developer.

The blues evolved into Jazz where there is more adaptability.

The structure was not fixed as a chorus and extended to the American Standard format.

I see this flow from Robert Johnson to Miles Davis to Ornette Coleman reflected in the methods.

Many of the world’s greatest classical players find it hard to emote with blues based music.

Nicola Benedetti had this exact problem trying to master Wynton Marsalis’s concerto that he wrote for her.

Many waterfall people had similar issues converting to the looser style of agile.

And now there are people locked into agile.

Will they be able to change when the new project methods come along?

The new style sprints – 2 week - are like pop.

They are usually UI driven JAM stacks with JSON objects mapping directly to the backend base, or should that be bass?

It should be noted that there is a lot of sampling carried out in this style of development.

The trickle down effects could lead to IP issues similar to music sampling.

This is different to blues and AABA formats.

The drop does appear to take a long time.

It is very similar to sprint delivery where the deployment is usually slower than the development or patch.

Other sprints I have experienced I am afraid to say are like the first eight bars of a four on the floor dance track where there is an emphasis and

extras added to last beat of the eighth bar.

Mutton dressed as lamb composers that can’t get past the loop.
Oh Well as Peter Green would say and play. They may be better suited to the classic rock style from whence they came.

A lot of EDM beginners compose an eight-bar loop and cannot break out of it to create the song, as seen left. It is very reminiscent of some two- week sprints that I work on. The team withholds progress data during the sprint until the last day. Daft Punks!

Agile Methodologies are a bit like gammon dressed as ham. They are selected by middle managers on the BAFort 6 – 8 range. They usually destroy trust because the managers cannot convert the complexity to duration that the business sponsors want. Also the team do not trust the middle managers because they see them as nightclub doormen or cloakroom assistants.

Teams tend to have a second summer of love approach: It can be scripted by paraphrasing Primal Scream’s sample of Peter Fonda in Wild Angels:

Agile Zealot
“We wanna be free…We wanna be free…to do what we wanna do And we want to get the backlog loaded. An’ we wanna have a good time…

An’ that’s what we’re gonna do”

This is a short example of a lean scene. It is a business story rather than a user story. There is a generational gap to bridge; as has always been the case.

When I do home-based development it is like back bedroom recording. It is more dev than ops. In business the suits prefer more ops than dev. That is understandable as the
Machine Learning Project Model
The three-loop model is different to a single sprint iteration. The basic ML project model will need to be depicted as a linear process to let the board calculate using their delivery durations. They are pretty savvy and understand that need. Tech teams better be adaptable and ready to learn to play different styles. Practise will replace fail-fast.

Agile offers NO strategic competitive advantage. It is ubiquitous. It is too slow. It is not accurate enough. It does not address the business needs. Backlogs are NOT order books!

Machine Learning projects will, I think, be business led – from C-Level. Tech teams will have to respond much faster than they do today. This may result in reduced staff levels. It is not something that I want to see but am aware it may happen. I offer hedge skills to those that may be affected.

The focus will not be on the technology as most ML can be commoditised. And ML can write better ML than most humans. Coders need to harness this in their workflow.

The business needs will be presented as a screenplay or lean scene with beginning, middle and end. There will also be more input from the board. In some cases the board will invert and support the workers.

Model Development will be like Sonatas. The exposition, development and dénouement reflect the business actions in code, hopefully in a synchronised manner and at a faster rate than the current coding techniques allow.

Be aware that the rush to data is simply using the Rational mode of management. Ignore intuitive and social modes at your peril. Machine Learning is mashed from the suits who write the scene and the hip orchestra that can play the style(s) required for ML/AI projects to be delivered.

So What? - Take 1 – Personal Application
No – not the Miles Davis ’59 quintet number.

I can select which style I want to play. I use a technique similar to musical notation to be transparent and communicate with players, conductors and doormen. I model each PBI as a work note like a musical profile (ADSR) as depicted in digital recording

The analyse phase converts complexity to knowledge. It measures learning. I can then show work notes in a similar way to a musical score. I replace the pitch on the left hand axis with a clipped Fibonacci scale and plan a two-week sprint as below. This changes my workflow model from left to right kanban to knowing what has to be done on each day – and doing it. Play on time & in tune…

I use another aspect of music to allow me to change my approach at work, home and play. I use modes. They are the scales that all songs use. They colour our emotions. Rather than waiting to hear a tune and react I go proactive and select a mode for a particular way to work while retaining my authenticity. When the teams I mentor take part in workshops they play harmoniously - in the same mode. Indian Ragas are similar.

Ionian. Bright, stable, major, beautiful, singable
Dorian. Cool, minor, funky, open, floating
Phrygian. Exotic, brooding, minor, heartbreaking, dark
Lydian. Bright, hip, major, comical, clever
Mixolydian. Moving, transient, funky, open, floating
Aeolian. Sad, pensive, minor, melancholy, yearning
Locrian. Aggressive, unstable, tense, angry
So What? – Take 2 - Corporate
The main points raised here show that music evolves over time. Software development methods evolve similarly.

Corporate IT applications can be considered as being the equivalent of Record Company back catalogues. Some catalogues are diverse covering many genres and some are specialised. There will always be tension between the suits and the artists.

The trends in the work place point to a change coming where C-Suite suits are taking an interest in ML/AI applications. This will lead to a development method that will be business led and IT will have to respond. The process will be different to the computing trends so far. IT will have to deliver faster, perhaps at the speed a song plays.

My preferred perspective is that IT should support business sales divas and order books in the way that soundtracks support movies. Focussing on IT projects misses the key business drivers. Is it necessary to be like “Star Wars” and commission a Korngold style soundtrack or is it better to follow the “2001 – A Space Odyssey” approach and use mostly pre-recoded tunes? (The tone poem example [pg 9] is a musical depiction of the personal transformation that Nietzsche describes in chapter 1 of “Thus Sprake Zarathustra” The human spirit transforms from beast of burden/camel to leader/lion to creator/child)

The World Economic Forum ranks creativity as the #1 in-demand skill in (2019).

My point is that focussing on Digital Transformation does not provide people with growth opportunities. Personal Transformation is more life affirming. Movies are the modern day equivalent of opera and, as you know, opera is the Italian word for work. I say contender because I cannot predict with certainty how the trends will develop. There are other areas that are not addressed here.

How to persuade people change is required and they can benefit
How to set business in the context of the seven stages of life.
Provide the World Economic Forum in-demand skills. (Bauhaus to BAU)
How to evolve the Studio method to appeal to owners and workers.
How to reduce the time of agile system delivery.
Which types of studio are needed? Blockbuster, TV Soap, Art-house, Disney?
Like the Thus Sprake Zarathustra tone poem I leave the situation unresolved…

Zak Moore writes about music and methodologies on his blog, Time & eMotion. For more details contact him at

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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