Apollo – America’s Lost Opportunity

The Apollo mission is always held as a great point in American history.  But imagine this…if Spain had reached the new world and decided that getting there was enough and came home, never colonizing the land, would we see that today as a victory?


America gave up.  Vietnam became more important than the Moon.  Defeating Communism, a flawed idea, was the rule of the day.  Showing everyone on Earth that Capitalism was a better system became the citadel of the time.

History is…what it is.

But our technology, dreams, and prosperity beckons.  It is in the American’s DNA to discover, to question, and to move beyond what we are.   That is how we came to be….what we are.

Mars, Venus, the Moon…these are are our new Western Frontiers. Lewis and Clark channel these thoughts.




Interstellar Imperialism

Getting to Mars is a technical, logistical, and psychological challenge.  While getting to the Moon may have required no more motivation than nationalism and being able to say “we did it”, Mars will require a more permanent and lasting mechanism.

Europeans bumped into the Americas upon their quest for a quicker trade route with the East Indies.  Their motivation for doing this had almost nothing to do with nationalism, discovery, or any social ideal.  Their motivations were mostly base and selfish. They were seeking profit, power, and gain.  They were capitalists and imperialists.  Upon finding this “new world” they proceeded to colonize and plunder it.

In a parallel to history, I propose that we need to discard our Cold War socialistic behavior of space exploration as an endeavor for the common good and rewrite our destiny bent around the imperialist and capitalist traditions that made Australia, The United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina what they are today.  An interstellar imperialist view is required for us to truly conquer the heavens.

This deck covers my view.  Called Tyr, I launched an IndieGoGo campaign to get it moving.  Contribute if you can.

So what’s the difference with Tyr’s approach?  How is Interstellar Imperialism different from Cold War Socialist Space Exploration?

Interstellar Imperialism seeks…

  • Individual liberty and profit vs collective ownership and control of space assets.
  • Space as a place to be conquered and owned vs explored and studied.
  • Permanent colonization vs brief visits.
  • Existence  vs subsistence
  • To transform alien worlds vs accepting them as they are.
  • Humans as the dominant life in the universe vs hoping someone else is out there.

Interstellar imperialism vaults humanity into control of this vast and empty place; pushing our will upon this canvas.  Rather than funnel humanity’s interstellar ambitions through select governments and billionaires we should seek technologies and mechanisms that lever us toward conquest.


Would You Rather Plan For Risk or React To Circumstance

I was asked recently by someone I greatly admire and respect, “Wouldn’t you rather plan for risk than react to the circumstances that befall your project?”

At the time I was stumped.  Yes I guess I would, but we can’t see everything can we?  At least I can’t.

In reflection my answer is: I would rather do both.  See and plan for those risks I know  and use a daily scrum-like meeting to capture what I cannot plan for.

What are your thoughts?

Can NASA Solve the Debt Crisis?

We can build machines that cover 140 million miles (225 million km), put themselves into orbit around Mars, nearly pinpoint their intended landing site through a brutal and high risk atmospheric entry and landing, and then traverse a rocky, radioactive environment in search of life or evidence that life once existed while beaming back its findings and data to Earth.

The feat of engineering that NASA undertook with Curiosity and the other Mars rovers reminds me of how well we solve difficult problems.  The multitude of different issues that needed to be resolved and planned for to achieve the Mars Curiosity mission is a miniature summation of human progress and achievement.  Its an accomplishment that would leave Galileo and Newton with a tear in their eye.

But it isn’t just space that we’re conquering.  Our ability to solve the riddles of our own DNA and it’s affect on our health, lifespan, and evolution are unwinding.   We can see into the past and determine how we evolved.

Likewise, climate change, a haunting and scary problem, has precedence for resolution.  We’ve fixed our planet’s atmosphere before. Remember the ozone hole?

So with all this on our resume….why can’t we solve the problems ***we*** create?   We’re not good at this.  Our track here is shockingly bad.

  • Poverty
  • War
  • Economic Recessions, Depressions,
  • Bankruptcy ( a.k.a ….too much debt )
  • Crime

We created these problems.  We’ve put mechanisms in place to “manage” them.  But we really suck at trying to solve these.  Why?

A good mentor points out your faults.  He tells you, flat out, what your issue is and helps coach you to resolution.  A mentor can do this because he’s been there, made the mistake, and lived through its resolution.  The accumulated wisdom and experience make all the difference.  There are boundaries to intelligence and determination that only failure, recovery and reflection can overcome.

We need NASA.  We need them to find a mentor for the human race somewhere in that deep black void that can hold up the mirror and say “See what the problem is now? Now…let’s fix it.  Here’s how we tackled the debt crisis on planet Zenon.”

The Agile Management Fad

Is Agile a management fad?  Is its blistering adoption throughout the world rooted in a proven value driven approach or the hysteria of the masses clamoring for a new trend to profit from and identify with?

Fad – defined

According to Wikipedia a management fad has certain characteristics. Let’s look through these defining elements and see if Agile can fit this definition.

1. New Jargon for Existing Business Processes?  Seems that there are plenty of examples that fit this like:

Manifesto = Mission

User Story = Requirement

Planning Poker = Estimating

Daily Scrum = Daily 15 minute meeting

Scrum Master = Coordinator/Facilitator with no authority.

2. External Consultants Who Specialize In the Implementation of the FadWould anyone deny that agile has these in abundance?  Agile consultants are everywhere and firms specializing in agility are in no short supply.

3. A certification or appraisal process performed by an external agency for a fee.  Yep. Many of these exist. Although they don’t all agree with one another on the merits for earning that certification, CSM, CSP, PMI-ACP, and the icAgile body of certifications represent a diversity of vehicles for achieving formal certification.

4. Amending the job titles of existing employees to include references to the fad.  There could be room for debate on this one, but a short search on monster.com or dice.com show a plethora of ‘agile project manager’ versus ‘project manager’ positions.   Equally, we’ve seen software developers that specialize in agile practices now called “ninjas” and there is the  “agile scrum coach” that now replaces the old title “application development manager”.

5. Claims of a measurable business improvement via measurement of a metric that is defined by the fad itself.  Velocity is the most prominent measure that comes to mind.  Further velocity is defined in increments the fad defines: story points.

6. An internal sponsoring department or individual that gains influence due to the fad’s implementation.  Organizational Agile Coaches, or an Agile Center of Excellence are two examples that have become common.

7.  Big words and complex phrases.  This one is kind of subjective, but YAGNI might quality. SolutionsIQ even published an agile glossary so you can keep up with all the terms & definitions.

Fad? Yes.  Value?  Yes.

So by this definition agile is, well,…a fad.   But does that mean agile practices have no value?  Here’s some of the things we’ve learned ( or re-learned ) from agility:

1.  Daily communication among team members really matters when the work is complex.

2.  The people doing the work must be accountable for it.  Don’t let them hide behind a project manager.  Let them take pride in what they do.

3.  Requirements require constant communication, clarification and understanding.  It’s a continuous phase communication cycle, not a document.

4.  Regular, timely feedback on work improves quality and job satisfaction.

5.  Teams need help coordinating, facilitating and communicating between themselves and others.

Agile’s popularity is still growing.  Clearly some of us see benefit even as the marketing machine twists agility into something it never really was or will ever be.  Like management fads before it ( Six Sigma, TQM, and CMMI ) agile has made an impact on how we create value.

Is there a cult following?  Of course.  Everyone likes being popular and making money.  But the end state of the agile bubble will be a reconciliation back to reality.  There’s no silver bullet.  Problems still exist and we’re never fast or perfect enough for the shareholders or customers.  Room for improvement is omnipresent.


The fever pitch of the fad is a beacon.  Full value has been realized, copied, marketed and redistributed without concern for the result.  While time exists and there is still competitive advantage…the crowd still gathers.  But, the drivers of innovation have long moved off the curve of agility, hybridizing and envisioning new methods and tools for further improvement.  Another wave will again crest and break onto the shores of software management and leadership bringing the promise of ultimate productivity and quality, but delivering only incremental improvement.