Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

Dialogue versus Debate

Posted by Tue, 10 Oct 2006 04:40:00 GMT

How many times have you participated in a conversation with someone and realized that you really didn’t understand what they had said. Or… perhaps you’ve been talking and even though the other person is nodding, you’re not confident that they’ve really heard what you’ve been saying. Yet, you might find yourself nodding in agreement when they speak… and walk away… totally clueless about what you just talked about.

Were you really listening? Were they speaking over your head? Were you speaking over their head? Perhaps you were distracted? Whatever the reason… it’s probably worth thinking about. We all do it from time to time.

Even worse, you were only thinking about how they were wrong and you had the right answer already in your head…

In Dialogue, there are rules for participation, which we’ll explore in future writings.

One might wonder if we’ve been trained to work this way. In school, we had classes that taught us to debate one another… further cultivating a society focused on you versus I. But, what about the community? What about the team? What about us? Sadly, most of the teamwork that we saw encouraged was in the form of sports. To be fair… we did have debate teams… but the purpose was to argue for one side of an argument… not to find a way for both sides to work together. One might wonder our society would be like if we encouraged Dialogue in the same way.

Perhaps we need Dialogue teams. ;-)

Dialogue allows teams of people to work together. It’s a process that cultivates learning and discovery. Dialogue is not a process that encourages the passing of judgement or pushing for specific outcomes… the aim is to share understanding. Through empathetic listening and questioning, the seeds of trust are planted.

Dialogue-Driven Development is about building trust.

I came across this great table, which contrasts Dialogue and Debate. It’s worth taking a few moments to review.

Here are a few that caught my attention…

Dialogue Debate
Dialogue is collaborative: the sides work together. Debate is a type of fight: two sides oppose each other to prove each other wrong.
In a dialogue the goals are finding common ideas and new ideas. In a debate the goals is winning with your own ideas.
In a dialogue you contribute your best ideas to be improved upon. In a debate you contribute your ideas and defend them against challenges.
In a dialogue you listen to each other to understand and build agreement. In a debate you listen to each other to find flaws and disagree.
In a dialogue you may consider new ideas and even change your mind completely. In a debate you do not admit you are considering new ideas and you must not change your mind, or you lose.
Dialogue encourages you to evaluate yourself. Debate encourages you to criticize others.
Dialogue promotes open-mindedness, including an openness to being wrong. Debate creates a close-minded attitude, a determination to be right.

There is something to be said about the art of Dialogue, which is why we’re so excited about the d3 project.

This Week in d3: 1

Posted by Fri, 06 Oct 2006 21:01:00 GMT

As overheard on the d3 mailing list...

“My strategy so far is to unemotionally ask them to step back for a minute from the “I want this feature” phrase. Start thinking about value delivered to the user; start thinking about HOW the user is going to use whatever information or functionality you’re delivering to them.”David Goodlad

“People have emotional attachments, pet ideas, favorite ways of doing things, and they are quick to impose those, under the guise of “business requirments”.”Brian Ford

“Dialogue-Driven Development has the opportunity to step up in this environment and redefine the interaction between customers and developers.”Brasten Sager (link)

..we’re just getting started. ;-)

If developer to client, developer to developer, or developer to user interaction is important to you… come talk with those of us involved in the Dialogue-Driven Development project.

Pictures from AJAXWorld 2006

Posted by Fri, 06 Oct 2006 13:04:00 GMT

It’s only been a few nights since James Adam announced his newest plugin for Ruby on Rails.

Hoff 2.0

I don’t have proof yet… but I’m guessing by the following picture that became the first Rails application to use acts_as_hasselhoff.

Hoff and Buff

If you can get yourself to look past Hasselhoff… here are a few more pictures from AJAXWorld 2006 in Santa Clara, California.

Joe O'Brien, Michael Buffington

Eric Hodel, Joe O'Brien

James Adam, Ryan Davis

Yes… that is Eric Hodel, Joe O’Brien, Michael Buffington, Ryan Davis, and James Adam.

Want to move to Portland?

Posted by Thu, 05 Oct 2006 21:56:00 GMT

While at AjaxWorld, several people asked me about our team, processes, and if we had any job openings. The answer to that is… “yes!”

We’re always looking for more developers. There is one catch though… we want you to be located in Portland, Oregon. Many people have responded to our ads as remote contractors, but what we’re really after is great people to join our team here in Portland.

If you’re interested in joining our team, send a thoughtful cover letter and your resume (plain text… no word docs) to

Update Since a few people emailed to ask more about Portland... here are some interesting facts and links. :-)

Slides: Rails meets the Legacy World

Posted by Tue, 03 Oct 2006 23:50:00 GMT

Just got back to my hotel room after giving my talk, Rails meets the legacy world here at Ruby on Rails seminar at AjaxWorld in Santa Clara, California.

As promised, I wanted to post some the slides from my talk today.

A few weeks ago, I announced the Ruby on Rails Legacy mailing list, which I also talked about in my talk. I invite you all to stop by and ask questions… and help the community grow.

If there was one thing that I wanted to really express in my talk… it was that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one faced with a situation where you need to work around legacy conventions, opinions, and politics.’re… not… alone. ;-)

Heading out to go see James Adam talk about plugins… !

Announcing the Dialogue-Driven Development Project

Posted by Tue, 03 Oct 2006 12:30:00 GMT

I woke up this morning and came across an article written by Brasten Sager, titled, Of Dialogue and Development in which he discusses his initial (and healthy) criticism of Dialogue-Driven Development.

But d3 is an evolving thing. Its earliest forms offered very little definition, leading me to believe there was little to it. As it has evolved the goals and mindset of d3 and its proponents have become a little more clear, and after further consideration I’m now convinced that my original critiques may have been wrong.

I encourage you to read his article, which offers ideas (and diagrams) on how d3 might be injected into your existing process.

A small number of interested developers have been sending us questions about d3 and were wondering what the next step was for the community. We’re working hard on outlining patterns of dialogue, which is where we plan to put of our focus into. A small group of people have joined our mailing list and IRC channel over the past few weeks, where some conversations have occurred. After reading through Brasten’s post, I believe that our IRC conversation last week was a good example of how people with different ideas about something… can come together and have a shared understanding, which is exactly what Dialogue-Driven Development is about.

Through shared understanding, we can accomplish so much more.

“In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Thanks to the hard work of Brian Ford, we now have a website to announce, which will be the portal to various conversations, patterns, and resources related to Dialogue-Driven Development.

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