Philippe Kruchten is a Canadian software engineer, Professor of Software Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, co-developer of the Rational Unified Process (RUP), and author of several books about this development method.
I had 7 questions for Philippe…
1. What is the purpose in your work?
Since I moved to academia in 2004:
a) Educating good, enlightened engineers, that are capable of critical thinking, looking at the context and the bigger picture rather than just applying blindly recipes. People that are able to fold in their decision making aspect of ethics, sustainability, social responsibility, respect, etc. (not just profit). People that are constant learners. People able to operate in an interdisciplinary environment, working effectively with people of different education, background, culture and objectives: physicists, physicians, lawyers, economists, farmers, ... instead of just nerds like themselves.
b) Developing a deeper understanding of what some of us call software engineering, now more at the sociological level (communication, collaboration, negotiation, reasoning tactics and reasoning flaws, organizational behaviour) than the pure technical level (e.g., aspect-oriented design, or model-driven architecture)
2. What energizes you to do great work?
Great feedback. Now this is mostly:
-feedback from past students (sometimes a couple of years after they left)
-feedback from respected peers, in academia as a global entity, in various professional organizations.
In the past, feedback from co-workers and customers. I also got a real kick from moving around the globe and working in different environment, cultures etc. Or tackling real big challenges (intellectual, not physical).
3. How do you see your own self-organization?
Managing a backlog of a myriad of small items, some disconnected, some interconnected, some related to items A and B above, some related to family, or the world at large. Limiting or throttling information flows. Trying to limit distractions, diversions. The large backlog (mostly electronic) of to-dos is broken into small ones every day (often on paper). Then I’m working in a mode that is not too far from “pomodoro”.
4. How do you work on your competence?
Reading, listening, reviewing, critiquing, ... asking for evaluation and feedback. Answering questions from remote acquaintances.
5. How do you measure growth as a person?
I have no clue. Probably the same thing which make giving formal written examination to student the most painful part of my new job. In general, a person grow when they let go of their fixations, and become more listeners, critical thinkers; when they start putting things in context, see the bigger picture, the ultimate end. But I do not know how to measure this objectively.
6. How do you improve the Agile community?
I have a hard time (in January 2011) to distinguish what is agile and what is not. It seems that more or less we have now put the adjective agile in front of every noun in our profession, and nobody is declaring oneself “non agile”. I am more concerned about how to improve the software engineering profession, or the quality of software-intensive products, than the agile community. Agile practices play a role but do not seem to be an end per se. So I do not dismiss agile: I do play my part especially in encouraging objective scientific research on agile practices, research tracks in conference, but “improving the agile community” does not seem a goal in itself. I am the cofounder with S. Adolph of Agile Vancouver (a community of people reflecting and learning about “agile” and “lean”) and past chair (2004-2009).
7. What other question could I have asked?
Is there something beyond “agile”?
What will happen when the world runs out of oil?
What is complex, what is simple?
Is there life after death?
Is there a god?
What are you cooking for dinner?
Thank you Philippe, for answering my questions, and (whether you want it or not) for being part of the Agile community! :-)