That Do Impress Me Much

Over at stackoverflow, now that they have a pile of money to spend invest, the rate of change is picking up. There’s the re-worked stack exchange model, which has changed dramatically – and quite likely for the better. They’ve moved away from the original paid-for hosted service to a community-driven process, whereby a community needs to form and commit to the idea of a new site. The objective is to improve the prospects of achieving critical mass for a new site, thus increasing its chances of success. I imagine a revenue model is mooted, although it may be little more than “if we build it, they will come” at present. Sponsored tags and ads spring to mind.

This week we’ve seen the covers removed (perhaps for a limited time initially) on a “third place“, to go with the existing main Q&A and “meta” (questions about the Q&A site). It’s a chat room. Well, lots of chat rooms of varying degrees of focus, to be more specific. Quite nicely done, too.

What has really impressed me has been that during this “limited sneak beta preview”, bugs, issues, feature requests and the like have been flowing through the interface at a fair rate of knots and many have been addressed and released within hours. Minutes, sometimes.

Think about it. User detects a bug, reports it and gets a fix, to an application with global reach, in a couple of hours or less. That’s agile.

A crucial part of Lean movement in manufacturing (and its younger counterpart in software development) is eliminating waste. “Waste” is broadly defined, very broadly defined, in fact, but one easily identifiable component is Work In Progress (WIP). In software terms, this often represents effort that has been invested (and money that’s been tied up) without having been included in a release. The more we invest effort without release the more we’re wasting, since we have no possibility of obtaining a return on that investment.

Here’s a particularly quick find/fix from earlier today:

Yes, it was probably a trivial bug, but the problem was notified, found, fixed and released in eight frickin’ minutes. How many of us can turn anything around that fast?

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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3 Responses to That Do Impress Me Much

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention That Do Impress Me Much « Grumpy Old Programmer -- Topsy.com

  2. Mathias says:

    We had Jeff Atwood speak at the user group here recently, and he said that being able to re-deploy fast and with no problem, was an explicit requirement for StackOverflow from the beginning. Obviously, it pays off! Rather than try to get everything perfect in one shot, accept that change happen, and make it as easy as possible to correct them…

  3. ross says:

    hummmm……….

    Not sure that same approach could be used everywhere through, right.

    I thought waste was any thing that did not add value – and that some waste can not be removed.

    Not sure I follow on the WIP line though, if that WIP does get released does it move at that point to value?

    Ross

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