Arcane Thoughts: The Zone

Over the Thanksgiving holidays I did a lot of traveling. Before I left I downloaded a lot of videos and podcasts from the internet to keep me busy during those slow times when everyone else had keeled over from too much turkey. One video that caught my eye was on the Channel 9 website. Channel 9 ( http://channel9.msdn.com/ ) , by the way, is the Microsoft sponsored site where the Channel 9 team goes out and videos other folks in Microsoft, talking about new technologies or interesting activities they are doing. This is the same place famous (or infamous) Rory Blyth ( http://www.neopoleon.com/home/default.aspx ), former co-host of DotNetRocks went to.

This particular video, http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=226791 talked about the CodePlex team. CodePlex, by the way is the Microsoft site ( http://www.codeplex.com/Default.aspx ) for open source development projects. I rather like the way it’s laid out, easy to find and organize a project, however that’s beside the point of this post.

During the video they revealed the entire CodePlex team works in a single office. Not an office with nice cubicles, not a section of a building, no all 8 of them are crammed into a single small office. Each has a small workstation or laptop on a small table or desk. Apparently this is some take off on Agile Development. Their claim was that if one guy runs into an issue, it’s very easy to say “Help!” and get immediate help on a coding issue and not delay his work. My thought was, hey that’s really great. For that one guy.

For the rest of the team, it seems to me it would be incredibly disruptive to the creative process. As developers, we often get into what Tony Robbins ( http://www.anthonyrobbins.com/ ) refers to as “The Zone”, that creatvie point where the juices are flowing and we lose all track of time. You’re solving problems, creating code, really making your application flow well. You know you’re there when you reach over for that cup of coffee to find it’s ice cold.

Then boom, someone interrupts you. Doesn’t really matter if they were asking, all that matters is you are rudely jarred out of “The Zone” and back to reality. After dealing with the interruption, it can be difficult to get back into “The Zone”, I’ve seen some studies that suggest it can be as long as half an hour before your mental processes have returned to full focus on the issue.

There are some aspects to Agile that appeal to me, for example the short release schedules. But cramming a bunch of coders into a single room? No thanks. I prefer to hang out in “The Zone”.

But hey, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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