Ask the right questions


Nice exchange with Marc before my holiday, about what the "Open Source Way" can bring to computer projects of all sizes and types. Actually most of the questions below apply to non-computer projects as well.

In my view, our most important finding is a set of questions that every team member must be able to answer quickly and without bothering others:

  • What are we doing?
  • Who knows what?
  • Who usually does what?
  • How are we doing?
  • When will this be ready?
  • Who did what, precisely?
  • Who gave which comment on that topic?
  • What happened while I was away?
  • Wasn't this said before?

It is cool to notice that the small and simple set of tools used at (CVS, bugzilla, mailing lists with archives, wikis) does all this and more, very often without requiring direct interaction between people involved. Real-life meetings (be it a coffee at the company's restaurant or a GetTogether) are then so much richer, when 95% of project communication is done using self-service tools.

We'll have more to say on this, but I will start using this set of questions in my consulting duties, to help people reach an agreement about their needs before speaking about tools. As usual, comments are welcome!