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Managed Chaos
Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
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Why is common sense so uncommon?

And this continues to puzzle me….

Through the Agile Software Community of India, I’m organizing three workshops by Mary and Tom Poppendieck in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. As a way to ensure quality (passionate and committed) individuals get to attend this workshop, I introduced the concept of a position paper. To participate in the workshop interested people have to add their position papers to ASCI wiki. The position paper is a simple, plain text response to 3 basic questions. The idea is we have an index page (home page) for the workshop in each city. People are supposed to add their name to the table (index) and link their position paper page from this index. This helps each one create a position paper page on the wiki, add what they want to add to the page and then link it up to the index, so that anyone can see who all have signed-up and if they want to know details about any person, they can click on their position paper link.

This might sound a little cryptic, but when you have an example to see, it all seems to make perfect sense to me. But if you see what has been happening on our wiki with these position papers is:

  • Some people don’t know wikis and they just email me saying here is my position paper. I’m happy at least these folks are not messing the whole wiki
  • Some people can add their name to the index, but don’t know how to create link. Even if there are 30 other people who have create a link one line above their text, they cannot figure out how to create a link. There is a link to the guide, but that apparently is not helping people either.
  • Some people don’t understand or don’t want to understand how to edit a table on a wiki.  Even if there are lots of other people who have added their rows to the table, some people cannot figure out how to. They keep doing wired things like randomly adding pipes and that messes the whole table up.
  • There is a description on the top of the page linking to the position paper description page. Some people click on this link, delete the position paper definition and add their position paper right there.
  • Some folks just clicking on the first person’s position paper, deleting the content on the page and adding their own content. So you click on person A’s position paper and you’ll see Person X’s position paper
  • Worst of all, some people are deleting the whole index page and just adding their position paper without any name or any other details.

In all these instances, people are not try to knowingly mess the wiki, but unknowingly are doing all this non-sense. Now one might feel this is common sense, why is this so difficult? If nothing else copy what others have done and that seems to work. My big question is “How can these guys build complex software applications for their clients, if they can’t work with a wiki”?

You know what scares the shit out of me, when I think of over 1 million people in the Indian IT industry who are out there. At least these people are taking an initiative and trying to learn something by attending these sessions. But what about those over million software professionals who don’t even have the drive or energy to learn something new?

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