Steve’s Update 3/18/2018

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Whoo, busy week, so let’s get to the list of what’s up!

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: So close to done!  I’ve got my prereaders lined up!  I should have it done this week.
  • Agile Creativity: This is what I’m calling my blog series on Agile and Creativity.  Anyway I cross the halfway point this Tuesday . . . or Wednesday as the weekend got busy.  This one is the seventh Agile Principle and it’s a simple one with real interesting repercussions.
  • Epic Resume Go Rewrite: I’m almost done with this – and wow is it a big improvement over the first book!  I’ll send it to my editor shortly and then I should have it out end of April.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I didn’t get out the Alpha of the Registry, but plan to this week.  I wanted to finish up a few more back end tweaks, especially ones that let me evaluate analytics.
  • Other: Had some people visiting which is cool.  I

What am I going to do this week:

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Finishing editing this week or early next.
  • Epic Resume Go Rewrite: Finish edit this week.
  • Art: The book cover is finished, and hopefully I can, you know, tell you about the project I did it for.
  • Agile Creativity: Keep writing of course!
  • Seventh Sanctum: Get out the Alpha of the Registry finally.  I’d like to not be distracted, but I got on a real run tweaking things once I started working on improvements.

– Steve

Not Buying This Immortality Thing

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)


As you’ve probably heard, immortality is again under discussion thanks to Nectome, which promises to preserve your brain in such fine detail you could be one day reconstructed. The process is fatal, but at least they’re open about it.

Allow me to remain skeptical – not if this is possible (at some point in theory maybe you can be copied over to a computer), but if we really can maturely think about – and handle – immortality as we conceive of it (usually in a very immature manner). If you read any of my previous writings on this you probably realize the answer – no.

A lot of quests for immortality I see among modern immortalists is really “how I will perpetuate myself so there’s a sense of continuity.” It’s basically taking the current “you” and extending it as long as possible. It’s a secular idea of heaven that believes there’s enough of a “you” to preserve that it’s really just a soul wearing a funny hat.

First, the idea really ignores that we’re not permanent, we’re not stable, we’re not eternal. We’re a rolling ball of experiences and information that changes. Modern techno-immortalism sounds like a desire to “freeze” oneself.

Secondly, because of this, it’s peculiarly non-evolutionary. All the idea of uploading one’s mind to the internet and such really ignores the idea you can change and evolve. All the life-extension cycles around the current self. There’s no growth or change.

But third, most importantly, modern simple immortalism sounds like it veers way to close to vampirism. I’ve felt this for years, but lately I’m even more convinced this is the truth.

If we extend the life of people, how much more power will they accumulate, and in turn, try to perpetuate their limited selves? We’ve already got serious issues of inherited wealth and power, do we want to jack it up further? Altered Carbon‘s premise is really just a simple idea of far more problems.

If someone’s entire life is about extending said life, that makes the rest of us, our world, our universe prey. It eliminates all meaning in one’s life and one society, an eternal quest for “more years” at the cost of everything.

Will we burden the future with endless seas of preserved brains? With digital personalities languishing away never changing – or making demands? How the hell will our ancestors think of us?

What does having children mean in an agle of immortality? Doesn’t this short-circuit both our need to reproduce but also the ability to create new, independent entities? Is the future a bunch of people repeating the same things and same habits over and over with nothing NEW?

How much could money to give someone another five years be spent on something better and greater?

Are we even building a world we’d want to live longer in?

How sane would people be living the same mind, same personality, immortal? Can we even handle it? Are we suited for immortality?

Our current immature immortalism’s focus on the ego, the stand-in for the soul, has some terrible repercussions for our future and ourselves.

In the end, as I’ve said in various ways, we don’t need to build a better Heaven; we need to build a better reincarnation. Rethink who and what we are. Think of more ways to be connected and leave a legacy. Focus on personal development and evolution – which may require rethinking death and life. Make lives worth living without us trying to find new ways to perpetuate our limited current idea of ourselves.

I would also add this – maybe we need death. We accumulate our burdens, our neuroses, our sadness our weariness. We get tired and wear out. Maybe at some point, having left our best legacies and influences, it’s time to put up the chairs on our lives and turn out the lives. Close the book, so more stories can be written. Approach life not as something to go on forever, but something that can be upgraded and rebooted to make room for more and greater things.

If I had a chance to extend my life? I’d probably go for it. But I’d want to be able to grow, to change, to evolve – and to declare when it’s time to shut it down. And I wouldn’t want to do it at the expense of things much greater and larger and more beautiful than me. Being that big would mean I’m not me.

– Steve

Agile Creativity – Principle #6: Facetime

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Agile principle #6 is a simple and sweet one about communications.  It needs no embellishment:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

This is obvious.  If you want to get the most done, effectively, talk to a person directly.  I could probably stop here and you and I have easily discussed 70% of the value of this Principle.

Obviously I’m not done – and we’re talking Agile and Agile Creativity, so there’s some subtleties to go into.  So I’d like to discuss this principle in a bit more detail, and focused on creative work.  This probably would be faster if we were face-to-face, so revel in the irony.

Good communication is vital to all work – creativity moreso.

It’s obvious that you get more done productively if you actually go and talk to people, and in-person conversations convey a lot of information effectively.   In-person you can judge gestures, expressions, voice pitch and more.  In-person you sync-up with people better.

When you communicate effectively, you say more, hear more, and can work effectively.  You can adapt better because you’re actually talking to someone directly and saying so much more.  I’ve seen team behavior change and become more productive when face-to-face activities are introduced.

In creative works are challenging to communicate because they involve everything from intuitive interpretation to understanding complex emotions.  This makes face-to-face or similar far more important because there’s just a lot to convey.  So if you have to collaborate creatively, get talking face to face

(As you may guess, I accept we can’t always get face-to-face, which means) . . .

Face-to-face isn’t always possible, so make due

Communicating with people on your team face-to-face sounds great.  It’s also probably impossible at many times due to location, travel, mutual loathing, and what have you.  So what do you do?  You find the closest-way to face-to-face in order to interact.  This could mean:

  • Video conferences (with sharing)
  • Chat programs (of course)
  • Phone conferences.
  • Meeting face-to-face when you can and packing in all the communication you can do.

You do what you can.  This may mean when it comes to creative works, you have to get pretty innovative.  You may do things like sending people videos and following up with online chat, and it may not be face-to-face, but it’ll be as close as you can get.

Is this somehow violating the ideal?  No, because . . .

Face To face is the most efficient and effective method – not the only one.

This Principle is a recommendation and a statement of truth – face to face is the best way to communicate within your team.  It’s not the only one, it’s just the best.  Agile isn’t big on hard rules and structures.

But sometimes the best is not available, so you do what you can.  Don’t fret, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Just do what you can.

A quick thought for solo creatives.

Does this matter to the solo creative?  Actually, hidden within this Principle are two important lessons:

  • You may be solo, but changes are you still are depending on other people for some things.  Delivering supplies.  Providing editorial services.  Etc.  Face-to-face still applies to these “team-like” connections.
  • Are you taking time to really communicate with yourself?  Analyze results, do research, consider where you’re going?  You might not be – learn to pay attention to yourself.

A moment for review

This simple principle is pretty easy to review:

  • Face-to-face is the best way to communicate with your team members.
  • If Face-to-Face isn’t possible, learn the best alternatives.
  • Even when solo, practice good communications techniques and take the time to self-reflect.

Simple one there.  Good, because the next Principle seems simple – but has a lot of depth.  In a way it’s a core to a lot of Agile thought . . .

– Steve

Steve’s Update 3/11/2018

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Hey everyone here’s my latest update – and yeah, going with the personalizing thing.

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Editing continues and reaching to my pre-readers.  Which, you know if you want to be one let me know.
  • Writing: As of Tuesday I’ll be halfway through my Agile Principles for Creatives.  Definitely turning this one into a book when done (thinking this may be a general thing with me)
  • Seventh Sanctum: I had to do a bit more backend tweaking (mostly stuff to deal with modern browser requirements), so the Registry took a back seat.  I am wondering if this is WORTH it, so I’ll probably post an Alpha.
  • Other: Thank goodness, the unpacking is now mostly done.

What am I going to do this week:

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Continue editing.  I’m going to try to get the almost-final run done soon – when I’m in the zone I can get a lot done.
  • Editing: I want to get the edit of version 2.0 of Epic Resume Go done this week.
  • Writing: Continue with the blogging – and I’ve identified several future projects.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Get out the Alpha of the Registry.
  • Art: I’m helping with a book cover and want to finalize that this week.


  • Debating how to handle these statuses. I view them as compliments to my newsletter, so not sure if I should break them up etc.

– Steve

Work And Effort: Not Always By The Numbers

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Latley I was feeling overloaded but couldn’t figure out how much. Turns out it was mostly in my own head.

Now I’ve been through a move, changes at work, and more. So the last two months my own workload estimates have been a tad off, all things considered. Now that I’m back at it, I decided it was time to get a handle on my work and my life. This included:

  • Making sure I tracked other time-consuming activities, like me workouts.
  • Getting back to my projects.
  • Recovering from the move.

So, I looked at my plans for March . . . and felt overloaded. Why was that, because in my head it made sense. Not much changed. Hell, I wasn’t moving at least.

Something didn’t feel right. You know that feeling of Really Not Right, and I couldn’t place it. Nothing came to mind, so I began to play with my schedule, looking at time taken, past work. Suddenly, something became very clear – an error you may have made in your own personal plans.

What I found was that I had overestimated the amount of work ahead of me, and that made me feel overloaded.

Normally, I’m for a little overestimation, just to be safe. But past a certain point, overestimation becomes not a buffer, but a source of confusion. Your gut, your mind, and your estimates can’t figure out how long things take or where time is going. That’s where I was.

  • I wanted to track more of my regular activities, making sure I accounted for them and didn’t get overloaded. I made sure to pad them a bit – which may matter little on one or two tasks. But when you’re talking things like cooking or working out that you do a lot, then padding adds up pretty fast.
  • I wanted to get back to my projects. Which of course I now was cautious about, so I overestimated a few of those. Which wouldn’t be as bad except I always juggle 2-4 projects.
  • Finally, I wanted to “catch up” on anything that got behind from my move, and of course, overloaded myself on top of some over-estimation.

Yes, in my effort to be Thinking Ahead and Develop A Good Backlog, I ended up overestimating so much out of caution I confused myself. So, uh don’t do that.

I also found I had to modify one of my estimating techniques. Check this out, it may help you.

Fibonacci Revised

As I mentioend in my Personal Agile, I estimate the time things take in hours using Fibonacci numbers – 1,2,3,5,8,13. This is common in abstract estimating as people are bad at determining small differences in large things – it’s easy to know if something is 2 or 3 hours, harder to know if it’s 4 or 5 hours, and real hard to tell if something is 25 or 26 hours. So Fibonacci estimating uses numbers with increasingly large gaps to force you to A) use certain numbers to avoid fiddling in the middle, with the side effect of B) By the time you’re tackling something so large maybe you should break it the hell down.

Now on the high level (beyond 3 hours) this helped me. But, I had lost control of detail on the lower end.

I didn’t differentiate between a 30 minute task an an hour. Or a 90 minute task and 2 hours. As I break stuff down pretty finely, I had overestimated work in many cases – and as noted as I also track many repetitive tasks, this balooned my estimated workload.

So now my “Modified Fibbonachi sequence” is .5, 1, 1.5, 2,3,5,8, 13. I give myself a bit of leeway on the low end.

I’ve wondered if in time I’ll learn enough I won’t need any kind of sequence as a crutch. I suppose I’ll find out – and share it with you.


So some takeaway lessons:

  • If your sense of what you can do and the time you’ll think it’ll take don’t “feel” right that’s a good warning.
  • Be careful on overestimation and adding too much buffer time to things you’re trying to get done. That causes confusion – and may squeeze out work you can do.
  • In estimating how long it takes to do things, tools like Fibonacci numbers may help on the high end, but give yourself leeway on smaller estimates.

– Steve

Agile Creativity – Principle #5: Creative Support

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

So if Agile Principle #4 was kind of heavy, Agile Principle #5 is a bit more philosophical – but also is very thought-provoking. It states:

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

This one makes a lot of sense. Make sure you have motivated people, give them what they need, and trust them. It’s a great principle, and having seen the opposite applied, I can assure you it leads to failure when you don’t do this.

But some creatives are solo acts. So let’s add on to this:

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. This applies to any size of team, from yourself to a large group.

There. Now it applies to everyone from a hundred people to you alone working on a project. In fact, imagining how this applies just to you helps you understand how it applies to a team. Let’s take a look at this Principle:

Build Projects . . .

It may seem weird to focus on just two words, but the fact this is about projects is important. Projects have defined goals (even if they change) and ends (or potential to end). It’s important to have bounded activities and goals – and not just for direction or signoff.

Having a project focus means you can evaluate progress, know what you want to accomplish, and know when you’re done. That’s vital to retain motivation and interest in these projects. People who feel motivated may loose it if they’re going in loops and don’t know if they’re accomplishing anything.

This is even more important when talking Agile for creatives. Creative projects can go in all sorts of directions, never end, never be broken down. Infinite possibility gives you infinite ways to never complete the work.

Solo Creative Tips:

  • Having defined projects helps you set goals and directions for yourself.
  • Having defined projects keeps you from trying to keep all the information in your head – having notes, spreadsheets, etc. keeps you from having to juggle that in your head.
  • Having defined projects will keep you motivated.
  • Having defined projects lets you share them when needed – say, if you need help.

 . . . around motivated individuals.

Quick, when’s the last time you worked iwth unmotivated individuals? Did you measure it in years, months, days, or minutes? Were you an unmotivated person?

Forget any happy motivational speaker talk, let’s be honest – unmotivated people do awful work. Many, many projects fail or are done halfway because of poor motivation. Many managers and leaders never pay for their awful job at motivating and finding motivated people.

Meanwhile, truly motivated people can achieve a great deal. Motivation is instinctive, and thus it guides and directs, inspires and drives; a truly motivated person brings their entire set of skills and interests and knowledge to a project.

If you want to have a project succeed, you want to find people who are motivated and motivate those there. I will state for the record many, many people are utterly terrible at this.

Motivation is a necessary part of any Agile method as it’s a light, adaptable approach to work. It doesn’t rely on someone directing or provoking work, it relies on feedback, direct communication, and initiative. Un-motivated people give poor feeebdak, ask poorly for feedback, have issues with communicating, and have no initiative. Agile methods of any kind don’t work without some motivation.

That means it’s up to you on any project to encourage motivation in yourself and others – and to find it. This is an entire area you could study up on to improve your work and leadership, by the way.

For creative work, you can guess that this is somehow even more important. Creativity is visceral, and the gut-feel of motivation is necessary to drive creative work – or even to feel creative. Creatives who are unmotivated often have trouble doing work or their best work as they don’t have that visceral drive.

And most work has some creativity in it.

Solo Creative Tips:

  • Understand and evaluate your motivations – honestly.  This helps you appreciate, follow, and continue your motivation.
  • If you aren’t motivated, ask why.  It may be something to address – it may be a sign you’re on the wrong path.
  • It helps to have someone or someones to help you assess your motivations and state of mind in creative work.
  • Learn how to coach and motivate yourself.  Besides, it may be good practice for coaching and motivating others.

Give them the environment and support they need . . .

People need the right environment to succeed of course.  The right technology, the right information, the right lack of noise (or lack of lack of noise).

When it comes to creative works, this is even more important because creative activities require certain technologies, environments, equipment, and more people aren’t always aware of.  That monitor better have damned good color resolution for subtle artistic tweaks, you’ll want to get that bulk membership to a royalty-free photos site for digital work, and if your team works odd hours have the right chat software.  Creative work’s “right environment” may be something not easily apparent.

It helps of course to ask people what they need- and listen.  Which leads to . . .

People also need support.  They need someone to solve problems, address issues, back them up, give them the professional and personal help they need.

(If you ever worked with a job without good support, well, you know how well that went.  And why you’re probably not there).

For creative work, support is, much like the environment, something that will take effort to provide because of the many variables of creative work – and creative people.  Listen to people doing the work like writing, art, graphics, and so on to figure what support they need – and provide it.

If you are a creative, learn to listen to and support other creatives on your projects.  Creativity isn’t some magical spigot we turn on and off, and if you know that, you can help others.

By the way, on the subject of helping others, let’s get to helping yourself  . . .

Solo Creative Tips:

  • Be sure you have the right equipment for your creative works.  That may seem obvious, but it’s easy to miss (as I once found using the wrong monitor).
  • Make sure you develop an appropriate creative environment to work in.  Imagine you had to set it up for someone else, and go from there.
  • Support yourself as a creative – taking care of yourself, figuring what helps you be creative better, learning to take breaks, etc.
  • I find that for creatives, having a group of like minded creatives helps you in solo work – they have good advice and insights.  As may you.

. . .and trust them to get the job done.

Once you give people who are motivated the right environment, once you’ve got their back, go ahead and trust them to do the job.  Help, enhance, guide, offer, so what you can to assist.  But trust first (which may be hard when a mistake is made, but often they’re honest).

This is challenging in any situation – we’re taught not to trust people.  One of the most revolutionary things about Agile methods is the emphasis on trust and transparency, which is probably why they can be so disruptive.

Creativity, which is often variable, unpredictable, and personal makes that trust harder to give as it’s harder to understand what’s going on.  If you’re working with creatives, you’ll want to go the extra mile to trust them.  That’s also because . . .

. . . trust is somehow even more vital in creative works.  Because of the many variables there’s personal opinions, trial and error, and the need to experiment.  This means that creative works, in some ways, can go further afield before coming back to the point and may need even more feedback than most works.  Trust is essential for this – and to navigate the more esoteric issues you may encounter.

On a personal level, I think there’s also a kind of mistrust of creatives among people.  Folks may see them as lazy as their job seems enjoyable.  People may think they’re strange because of their work.  Others may assume they’re unreliable because of the many variables in their work.

Most of that is B.S.  But it’s a challenge for people.

Solo Creative Tips:

  • Trust yourself.  This is probably harder than trusting other creative people; we tend to be hard on ourselves.
  • A good way to trust yourself is to keep and review successes in recent works (I do this myself).

The Right People, The Right Environment, The Right You

The Fifth Agile Principle is one of the most wonderfully obvious, no-nonsense ideas that really calls out how easily you can do things wrong.  Get motivated people (or motivate them), give them what they need, stand back and trust them. Stuff gets done.

It bears repeating because, like many Agile Principles, the obvious gets missed.  That’s why we need them.

When it comes to creatives, this principle requires thoughtfulness and discretion because supporting creative works may require extra effort – especially if you’re not a creative type.  It’s one to keep in mind as you help people out.

And if you are a creative, hey – support yourself.  And support others doing creative work.


– Steve

Steve’s Update 3/4/2018

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Here’s my latest update – I’m also going to  make it more personal.

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Editing is in progress and I’m keeping a good pace.  Quite pleased with it.
  • Writing: Got a new column coming up on my productivity, and another Agile Manifesto post for creatives.
  • Seventh Sanctum: The “Registry” of other generators is going well – I just have to fill it out before launching.  So guess what I’m busy at . . .
  • Other: Still unpacking of course, and I have fleshed out more of my writing long-term plans.

What am I going to do this week:

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Just editing away of course.
  • Writing: Still doing blog posts.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Still stocking the new registry.


  • I think I got my commuting in place, so that should help me be more productive!
  • Next week I HOPE to start the rewrite of Epic Resume Go!
  • I won Tangledeep – definitely worth the time and money.  So now . . .
  • I’m on to Into The Breach.  Like FTL it’s challenging and compelling, but also its kind of stressful to play.  Do check it out.
  • I caught Black Panther.  Just see it.  Several times.  Wow.

– Steve

The Creativity Paradox

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

There’s something horribly restrictive about creativity. Ever start something and feel trapped? Ever have an imaginative project become a burden? Why?

If you think of it, creativity means that you can do anything. The human mind can imagine things that were are are, never were but could be, and are not but shall be. In a creative act, from an add campaign to a novel, you could do anything.

Modern tools make things even easier. A decent set of CGI tools or self-publishing can bring any work to life.

Yet, why are creative works and acts so often frustrating, feeling like a trap? Why do we worry over writer’s block, argue about subjective artistic choices, or turn creative work into a death march? That’s because the sheer opportunity of creativity and all the options leads us to make bad choices.

When you can do anything, you can find new ways to screw it up.

The Choice of Paralysis

We all know writer’s and artists with too many ideas in their heads – indeed we may be one. They have all the opportunity in the world – and can’t decide what or how to do it. They are paralyzed by the very power they have to create.

Soon, nothing gets done because they can do anything. One choice is swapped for another, one color for another, and nothing truly finishes. It’s like constantly trying to adjust your thermostat.

(This is similar to the business term, “Paralysis through Analysis.”)

We can be free, only to be lost in a maze of maybes.

The Choice Of Fear

Having many ways to create, we also can see many paths to failure. Which is the right option out of an infinity? Which will get the job done? Which will at least keep people from getting angry at us?

Lost in fear, we loose our creative edge – it’s hard to imagine when you’re second-guessing everything. Creativity becomes a constant dodge of imagined failure and anger. At best, we imagine ways around problems we also imagined.

Fear is one of the causes of the Choice of Paralysis as well. Because we’re afraid, we’re endlessly using our imaginations to come up with things we then decide aren’t good enough.

Creatives are good at imagining, and often imagine worst cases.

The Choice Of Miscommunication

Communicating creative works is hard. There’s often something visceral, beyond words at the core of what we do. But we must also make it accessible to others – because our audience is often not us.

Yet with so many options, do we choose the one that helps people get it? I’m not talking about over-explaining, I’m talking about using our infinite choices to create a work that is accessible to the audience. It’s all well and good to have a great idea, but not if people can’t enjoy it.

At times, frustrated, we may avoid addressing miscommunication, because we expect to be “misunderstood.” We don’t have to.

At times, aloof, we may figure that we don’t have to work to be accessible, for the journey to understand our creations is part of them, right?

At times, we fear miscommunication – and the Choice of Fear catches us again.

We have infinite options, and sometimes choose the ones that lock people out or can never figure how to talk to them.The Choice Of Restriction

When confronted with many options, some of us don’t choose to wander through creative options, we instead restrict our choices. Plans and plots, review sessions and sign-offs, imagination turned into a checklist. We try to restrict and channel creativity, to avoid both too many opportunities as well as the fear of failure.

In this case we probably stomp all the fun out of it – and make ourselves less creative. It’s hard to look forward to your next work when all you can see is lists and marketing data.

Worse, we often make the Choice of Restriction because it helps us deal with the other bad choices. If we build some elaborate system it’ll solve all our problems! Of course we then imagine a system that destroys the fun of creativity.

We try to control creativity and thus make it harder.

The Choice Of Safety

Confronted with many fears, with marketing needs, with needs for a paycheck, many creatives opt to play it safe. Make the same thing over and over. Don’t innovate too much. Recheck everything. Make it like last time.

We take all that potential and make it like te last thing we did. Some creatives are satisfied by this – and the paychecks – but not everyone. Besides “Survivor bias” paints a far rosier picture.

This is often the end result of the Choice Of Restriction. We give up on creativity entirely, and just make it into a machine. We may wonder, at times, why we’re so frustrated, but may lack the imagination to know why.

We can try to stop innovating, just to be safe. It somehow doesn’t feel safe.

Facing the Paradoxes

So now, facing these paradoxial choices – Paralysis, Fear, Miscommunication, Restriction, Safety, how do we creatives deal with them?

By getting ahead of them. You’re a creative person – you should be able to create ways AROUND these limits. You need to face them head on. Here’s a few things I found, but you’ll need to find your own methods:

Paralysis – Can be addressed by making and reviewing choices, accepting imperfections, and iterative improvement.
Fear – Can be addressed by diving in, producing, facing it. In a few cases personal support or even therapy may help, but don’t let fear rule you.

Miscommunication – Develop empathy with people. Learn to understand them. Also learn that you can’t please everyone – don’t be angry about that, accept it.

Restriction – Can be addressed by making it unnecessary as you’ve build in your own ways of channeling work, but giving yourself space.

Safety – Dealing with Safety requires us to regularly get out of our comfort zones. It doesn’t mean some radical push, it means regularly poking your head out a bit more, trying new things.

For me, using Agile methods have been my methods. Regular reviews help me stay on track. Setting out blocks of time gives me freedom. Staying in touch with my vision gives me guidance and inspiration. It’s worked for me – it may work for you.

But my methods or not, tackle these issues head on.

As a Creative, find your methods, your ways, to deal witht hese issues. They might be my ways, they may be someone elses, they may be yours. But when you address these Choices that make Creativity so paradoxial, then you can truly get amazing things done.

With less stress and less of the wrong kinds of paradoxes.

– Steve

Agile Creativity – Principle #4: Daily Collaboration

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Now the fourth Principle of Agile Software, which we’ll be re-purposing for creative work, is simple until you think about it for two seconds. It states.

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Easy, right? First, let’s tweak this a bit for creatives

Customers and creatives must work together daily throughout the project.

Still simple, but I’m pretty sure you’ve been in situations where you couldn’t get someone to talk. Or respond to email. You probably wondered if they were OK. Maybe the Fourth principle is harder than it looks . .

At the same time, despite your disbelief, you probably see the value in this. If you and whoever you’re doing work for are in communication, you work better, get feedback better, and so on. Work becomes easier, faster, and friendlier.

It’s just that this sounds like it’d be real hard to implement.

So let’s break this Principle down – and focus on how you make it work – to everyone’s benefit.

Customers And Creatives Must Work Together . . .

This is a bit of a “duh” rule. But pause for a second and ask yourself what working together with the customer *really* means.

This Principle doesn’t say one is in charge and the other isn’t. It’s not about following a plan or not doing it. It’s the idea that you and your customer work together. You’re a team, even if one of you sort of started all of this and is probably paying the bills.

So you want to make sure you and whoever you’re doing creative work for are actually cooperating together to get a result and thinking of yourselves as working together. This is a bit of a radical mindshift (probably for both of you) and you can help encourage it because, well, you’re reading this. Approach working with your creative customers as a team effort, which means:

  • Encourage cooperation (of course).
  • Treat work as succeeding (and failing) together.
  • Develop a team approach, think of yourself as a team, cultivate that.
  • Include customers (when appropriate) in activities, from status reports to team lunches.

By the way, this may have you askin “hey, who is my customer.” We’ll get to that, but let’s finish off looking at the Foruth principle.

. . . daily throughout the project

Yes. The Fourth Agile Principle expects you to work with your customer daily throughout the project. The reason for this is obvious – you’re in touch with the people you’re doing work for. Talking to them and communicating with them to get questions answered, get feedback, etc. means two things:

  • You’re better directed towards the goal (even when it changes).
  • It develops good teamwork (which leads to informal improvements).

Yes, you are in contact daily, interacting, daily, and by now you’re probably thinking “how the heck can I do that?”

Ideally, you’d be in touch with people you’re doing work for all the time; indeed, ideally you’d work with them in person. In actual reality, in an age of conference calls and distributed teams, it’s a lot harder to work with people daily. I find the best way to solve this is – literally – just do your best and be aware of it.

It’s an ideal to aspire you. A few things I’ve found that help are:

  • Chat programs. Just passing an update to someone can help.
  • Email summaries and statuses. Sending quick daily updates helps.
  • Open Hours. Have a time in your schedule where someone can contact you; maybe you even sit in on a conference call or voice chat and anyone can swing by.
  • Talk to some if not all people. If your customer contact involves multiple people, touch base and work with as many of them as you can, even if it can’t be or doesn’t need to be all.
  • Cultivate customer communication. Help the customer develop this communicate-with-team attitude as well.
  • Radiators. Have some kind of chart, status sheet, document dump, working beta, that people can look at and use to get update. It’s passive communication, but it’s something.

I tend to solve the need for regular communication by mixing regular methods (daily updates, radiators) and informal (using chat programs and upates). Combined together, people stay in touch overall, even if individual methods don’t cover everyone.

And yes, trying to convince people daily communication is a good idea may be hard. If you’ve got people who are heads down, who like their privacy, etc. it may be harder. Cultivating this is going to be a bit of work.

Ultimately, I find this part of the Fourth Principle ultimately wraps up with the first part. You work together, you cooperate. As you do so, you’re better able to communicate daily because you’re more of a team.

But there’s a complication . . .

The Fourth Principle’s Complication: Client and Audience

The Fourth principle may sound hard to implement, but it’s an easy one – except but there’s another wrinkle. There’s the customer and then there’s the audience . . .

If you’re doing a logo, it’s easy – the customer asks for a logo. You make it. The customer’s customers, the “audience” may or may not like it, but it’s probably no big deal.

But what if you’re making a tutorial? Someone may ask you to make that tutorial, and you work as a team, but isnt the audience someone you need to keep in mind, because that tutorial is for THEM. The audience is also a bit more of a customer.

Now take this all the way; you’re an author. You have no direct customer or customer team, just a lot of readers, some of which you’re in touch with some of which you aren’t. How do you collaborate with that ?

When working to use the Fourth Principle as guidance, you’ll need to understand just who the customer is and just who the audience is. It might not be easy.

Rounding Up

Let’s review the Fourth Agile Principle for Creatives:

  • Delivering useable work focuses your efforts on what to deliver and how to deliver.
  • By delivering work as early as possible, you get feedback on the work you’ve done, which improves the results and communications.
  • Delivering work frequently creates feedback, communication, trust, and transparency.
  • Frequent delivery of useable work requires you to develop the best way to deliver, improving how you operate.
  • The shorter the timeframe the better, as it increases all the advantages of delivering useable work.
  • Frequent delivery of work provides direction, guidance, communication, and builds trust – areas that creative work needs, but that are also very challenging.

One simple Principle that packs a lot of benefits – and a lot of challenges – in. Worth taking to heart, just be ready for the actions it’ll take to make it real.

But, you’re someone that probably wants to improve and grow – as does everyone on your team. Let’s look at that in the Fifth Agile Principle.

– Steve

Steve’s Update 2/27/2018

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Here’s my latest update – and a lot to discuss!

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: The final edit before pre-reading is in progress.
  • Writing: The fourth Agile column is coming soon – and more to come, of course
  • Personal Agile Guide: This is launched and out!  So if you subscribe to my newsletter, you get a copy!
  • Seventh Sanctum: My next project is going well – it’s a page on which I’ll keep a “registry” of other cool generators from other sites.  I’ve got it working, it’s just stocking it with links, so I am gonna need a little time.  Give it a few weeks.
  • Unpacking: Ok this wasn’t what I promised YOU, but I did get a lot done.

What am I going to do this week:

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Editing continues.  Probably won’t have much to say.
  • Writing: On to Agile Principle #5 of course, and I’m hoping to do other columns.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Stocking that new registry, of course.


  • The commute is sorting out.  It’ll take a little longer to get it in order, but it’s pretty good.
  • This coming month I am going to try to do the rewrite of my resume guide as well as my regular work.  Wish me luck!

– Steve