Last week the film adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel “IT” premiered in theaters with record-breaking results. Audiences flocked to their local cinemas to watch a film about a supernatural clown named Pennywise who terrorizes and devours the unsuspecting children of the small fictional town of Derry.
I'm old enough to recall a time when being obsessed with things like movies, science fiction, games, and comic books was enough to get a kid bullied at school. At the tail end of the 1970's and early 1980's the most acceptable outlet for "popular" boys was sports, and anyone over the age of 12 or so was expected to abandon their action figures (or "dolls" as my dad often called them) for the more serious quest for things that might actually make a boy popular with girls his age, and lead to an active dating life.
In February of this year, I brought the varied members of my development team together here in Richmond, VA for a single purpose: I could sense their growing frustration with the development process. As a team built to serve an entire company with dozens of potential clients, requests for new development and design were coming from all angles and often from folks who lacked the technical background to make informed requests or to understand the complexity of the "ask." Put simply, my goal was to create some form of exercise that would allow members of the team to better understand where their frustration was coming from, and to help managers to understand how to overcome many of the communication hurdles that lead to scope creep and spell certain doom for development projects. What follows is a description of this exercise, shared with the audience in the hopes that other lead developers might find useful elements to use with their own teams.
When we think about the world's greatest "Robots in Disguise," what really comes to mind? Cars and jets that turn into giant feuding mechs? Awesome funky 80's cassette players and tapes that turn into condors and panthers? Perhaps what is most evocative is the fun of solving the puzzle of converting a toy from one mode into another...
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