Using, Not Just Trying Something (and Recruitment)

Jason Fried of 37signals just published the startings of a post he was writing about the difference between using and trying something.

It’s why agile lovers (such as myself) are so keen on the process. Not just because its a nicer way to work, everything is focused on feedback - from writing code test-first and using that feedback cycle to hone how you develop and design your code, to delivering early and often to customers to tune what you’re building.

It’s all very well just looking at screenshots, but its not until you try using it you see things. It’s why I’m loving seeing lo-fi prototypes in how we work - stickies on acetates that let you walk through the UI. Ultra-simplistic but uber-effective. In Jason’s words:

You don’t notice the quirks and shortcuts when you try something. Those revelations only come from real use. Eye candy shines during trial, but fades fast during use. Cool wears off quick, usefulness never does.

The last couple of weeks I was happy to be back in the ThoughtWorks office in London, working on various little utilities (and the Mephisto plugin). I was also fortunate enough to help out with some of our UK graduate recruitment.

As with Jason’s point above - it’s only when you sit and work with someone you get an idea about what they’re like. Both interviewee, but also interviewer - as the person being invited to an interview it gives a real insight into the types of people you work with.

After all, it’s all very well giving tests and asking difficult questions (which we also do), but actually working with something is a very different (and revealing) thing. But, just as importantly, it’s very refreshing.