The End of Summer

Simpsonize My Family

LinkedIn and Age

Astronomical Clock

My company recently held HR training for managers where the instructor said:

  • Do not require dates of employment on applications
  • Do not note or refer to dates on someone’s resume or application

All this because considering age when hiring is, in most cases, both wrong and illegal.

  • If I list three jobs, each of which I worked four years, am I over 40?
  • Same jobs with dates. I began the first job in 1992, am I over 40?

I thought I’d ask LinkedIn why they require the display of dates.

This is their reply…

From: LinkedIn Customer Service
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007
To: Ken H. Judy
Subject: Re: dates worked in experience profile

Hi Ken,

While we can understand your position along with your companies HR training basically providing the length of employment or the dates you began with a company (start date) and the date you left the company (end date) would pretty much be the same. If I started with LinkedIn March 01, 2007 and I left them April 1, 2007 that would mean I was one month old? I don’t believe this would really have much to do with a person’s age. When entering employment dates on a resume you don’t enter your date of birth neither should you do that on your CV. Please let me know if this addresses your concern as I am not sure I understand how entering your employment dates is age based discrimination.


I’m comforted that you “understand my position”. Thanks LinkedIn Privacy Lead!

I realize experts recommend listing dates and only using the most recent 10-15 years of experience. Still, what I reveal about myself is fundamentally my decision not the administrators of a social network.

Oh, and thanks for clearing up that thing about the one month olds. I was confused about that one…

Inspect and Adapt – A Fable

There once was a carpenter building a metal box. Try as he might, he couldn’t get nails to stick into much less attach two pieces of metal.

Apparently, other people were having a lot of success using nuts and bolts. So he got some.

Hammer as he might, all he ended up with was dented metal and bent bolts.

Tools - collage made with Ript

So he consulted an expert. Careful observation indicated the expert used a screwdriver. Great! He happened to have one in his toolbox.

He noted that the useful part of a screwdriver was the slotted tip at the end. So, he cut it off and taped it to the head of his hammer.

After one strike, the tip broke off and fell to the floor.

“Boy, my hammer is really letting me down,” he thought to himself. “I guess I’ll have to use the whole screwdriver.”

He went to the store and bought another one.

Once he got home, the man held it in his hand. It didn’t feel right. Any decent tool has a grip that goes at right angles to the head. He found a piece of wood and attached the screwdriver to the end.

That felt a little better but the screwdriver was very light. No decent tool was that insubstantial. So he attached a weight to the tip. That felt better! Now he was making progress!

Confident in his tool, the man pounded away at more bolts.

He managed to make a dozen deep scratches and bend several bolts before the screwdriver broke.

“That was worse than before! Screwdrivers are really overrated and it took so much work before I could even use it, ” the man said to himself.

“I’m not making that mistake again. I’m going out and get a really good hammer!”

Scrum Gathering – Agile and Ethics

I’ll be presenting two talks at the November Scrum Gathering.

One of them is dear to my heart. I’ll be using this blog over the next few months to work up my ideas and document conversations I have around this topic.

The Ethics of Scrum and Agile Software Development.

Here’s what I proposed:

Presentation Description

Are Scrum and XP inherently ethical?

In the face of contradictory beliefs over what we do and how we do it, we software developers, agile or not, experience pressure to compromise our work and our due care for others. Meanwhile, as our products become more beneficial, more pervasive and inter-connected our potential to harm grows.

Attempts by the ACM and IEEE to engage us in a dialog on norms of conduct has resulted in a controversial code of ethics that borrows heavily from established engineering disciplines – mandating specifications to ensure effective software.

We, agile software developers are making an under-appreciated contribution to ethical practice in our field.

Whether our work is a profession or craft, we need to engage the larger community in a conversation about how our day to day actions affect our employers, our peers, and our society. This presentation will attempt to frame professional ethics in the context of agile values and practices.

Why is this topic of interest to Scrum Gathering attendees?

The discussion over norms of ethical conduct happens outside the earshot of most working developers. The day to day experience of Scrum practitioners is at a distance from those who concern themselves with software ethics.

As a Scrum community, we have a responsibility to help shape the expectations placed upon us by others. We cannot delegate our integrity. Nor can we defer concerns over negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm the human beings who use the systems we create. We openly discuss our projects, our working conditions, and our advancement but to protect those very interests we often deal with issues of conscience privately.

Yet the passion behind Scrum is, in part, an idealistic one – a hope that by dealing openly and responsively with our stakeholders we will build something of real value. We need to harness this idealism to encourage each other make better decisions in the interests of stakeholders who do not pay us and do not always have a seat at the project table.

Given the downstream effect ethical lapses large and small have on society, we need to engage in this discussion or have the wrong solutions imposed upon us by employers, institutions, and regulatory agencies.

Presentation Objectives

  1. Is it important for us to establish a shared commitment to ethical conduct?
  2. What obligations a software developer should feel beyond fulfilling the requirements of their employer?
  3. How the Agile Manifesto and Scrum/XP practices suggest a partial set of norms of ethical conduct.
  4. How agile organizations have started to provide their own statements of principles to extend agile values and encompass conduct towards our peers and society.