Monthly Archives: May 2012

Its not a model, its an Olaf.

At ScanAgile in Helsinki (great conference), Olaf Lewitz pointed out that the “model” in the “break the model” part of Feature Injection is not a model as we would normally describe it.

My understanding of the term model is “A simplification of reality”. This was my understanding when I started using the term.

Olaf pointed out that what we had in “Break the model” was “A summary of examples”. The important part is that the process used to create it is to incrementally add examples and adjust it as we add examples that are different in some way. We do not create our model by simplifying the reality of the situation. We do not have a good word for this and so we are calling it an Olaf until a better name is discovered. In effect, we now have “Break the Olaf” in ¬†Feature Injection which seems a bit harsh on Olaf, so I think we will stick with “Break the Model” until we find the right name.

So what is an Olaf? An Olaf is a set of examples that represent our reality. We use it as a filter to identify new examples that do not fit in the set.

e.g. We have a white square and a black square in our set. We then spot a red square. We know that this does not exist in our current set so we add it.

In its simplest form, the Olaf is a the set of examples itself. However, it becomes hard to spot new examples by comparing them to the existing set of examples. To make it easier to spot new examples, we abstract properties and behaviours.

“Break the model” means we have found an example that does not fit into our set of examples.

e.g. We start with a black square.

Our Olaf is a black square.

We spot a white square which breaks the Olaf.

Our Olaf is now a black or white square.

We spot a red square which breaks the Olaf. We abstract black, white and red into “coloured”.

Our Olaf is now a “coloured” square.

We spot a triangle which breaks the Olaf. We abstract triangle and square into straight sided shapes.

Our Olaf is now a coloured “straight sided shape.

We spot a circle……….

The key thing is that the Olaf describes our existing examples so that we can more easily spot new examples. Once we spot an example, we simply add it to the list of examples. To make things easier, we may create an abstraction of the examples.

Let me know if you think of a better name for an Olaf.

QCon New York

Just finished the initial draft of slides for my presentation at QCon New York. Will be tweaking, adding and pruning over the next few weeks as I remove content and hope to add humour.

Amr Elssamadisy asked me to put together a track on the “Agile Individual”. I did what any sane person would do and invited the people I want to hear speak. The only constraint was they had to talk about Agile Individuals.

Mike Hill is a legend from the early days of XP. He will be talking about how individuals make amazing teams. If he does not offend, then he will have to try harder. Mike Roberts is just super super smart. He will be bustin’ and bruisin’ some Agile processes in the hope that the focus will be on individuals instead. Matt Wynne did a hilarious talk at Cukeup last year. The additional constraint I placed on him was that his talk had to be just as funny. If not, I’ll banish him to a cave in Scotland. I’ll be talking about Learning… and how to do it the lazy way. Sue McKinney will be on Late ( a private joke ) talking about the Executive view of the individual in Agile.

All will be excellent presentations except mine which currently has four hours of material that I hope to squeeze into 45 minutes.