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Showing posts from June, 2011

Be or Be Not; there is no Do in Agile

Why do we practice this thing we call Agile?  Is it for the results it provides? 

I've been working with companies and people that use the "A" word in many different ways.  Sometime the word is used as if it were a method of working.
"We are doing Agile on this project, but the team has 34% story carry over each iteration." Sometimes it is used as a bludgeon to beat someone not behaving as one would like them to behave.
Sales:  "I'd like you to work on this severity one bug, it just came in and the customer while not really blocked is considering a purchase of our SuperWidget and if you just sneak this in today they will be really happy." Team Member:  "Sorry, talk to the PO we have sprint commitments." Sales:  "Well, that's not very Agile!" While at other times it is a promised land, a utopia of project management where we all live in harmony.  Many times it is used as a technique to achieve some other purpose, a different…

Scrum cartoons and fictional stories - a list.

If you enjoy the classic pig and chicken joke that Ken likes to tell, then you will enjoy the Implementing Scrum Cartoons.

There must be 100 of them, so if you want to illustrate a Scrum dysfunction, there is probably a cartoon for you.

If your cartoon taste are a bit retro - try SCRUM NOIR: A Silo to Hell! My review at Amazon:

In a dark and wet city that never sleeps Ace is confronted with the constant techniques that appear to work in delivering software; "work", that is if appearing busy and always having a competing department to blame for missing milestones on the project plan that no one ever thought was possible is your managers definition of WORK.

So how does one change the mindset of leaders and workers? How does one show that collaboration and measuring visible working software (and tested functionality) is a better way of managing projects?

Why does the format of a graphic novel work so well for this common type of moral play? Well one answer is that we have all seen…

I should have patented the design

MacWorld just ran an article with this new iPad telephoto lens adapter.

The Super Gear Telescope 6x Zoom For Apple iPad 2. 

I knew I should have patented my earlier design.

I’ve been taking all my pictures with this new lens and camera combination for the iPhone.  The image quality is great from edge to edge and the telephoto zoom allows image reach from Illahee, WA to Ketchikan, AK.

iDuct Systems EF mounting hardware
The Canon 100 - 400 F IS zoom lens is mounted to the iPhone with iDuct Systems custom hardware ($8.97 at Ace Hardware). Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS
L-series super telephoto zoom lens equipped with an Image Stabilizer. The fluorite and Super UD-glass elements largely eliminate secondary spectrum. The floating system also ensures high picture quality at all focal lengths. The Image Stabilizer has two modes and it is compatible with Extenders 1.4x II and 2x II.

I should have patented the design.

Update:  You could pay $250 for an expensive solution.

The iPhone 4 SLR Moun…

What Agile tools are you using? 13 tools to use.

There are all levels of software development tools.  From project management tools to source control tools, and all manner of in-between tools.  Many new teams starting out want a quick list of the tools they should use.  This is a cheat.  They want a quick fix to their existing problems.  Here's a clue - it is hard work that fixes your problems.  No tool is going to solve your underlying problem.

Chances are that your problem is not technical at all.  Changes are that your problem is a human caused problem.  You are not working together, not collaborating.  Adding a tool will just mask the root cause.  But most management will purchase such a tool if it has some good smoke and mirrow hand wavy justification.

My first recommendation is to use your brain.  Then use your hands.  Make your problems visible.  Draw them on a white board, or a flip chart or an A3 sheet of paper (11x17 for you Americans).  Yes use your spreadsheet to track trends and make graphs, but when the canned gra…

Agile Games 2016 - Best Conference ... yet ...

Update May 2016 - and it's still the best learning conference I've every been to - ever!

Agile Games 2016

I presented - a game using Tangrams to Cultivate Collaboration.

And the first ever - Mob Programming conference.

-- Way Back Machine -- Original post....

A great Agile Games 2011 conference! Watch the video and count the number of times that you see interaction and collaboration versus the number of times you see traditional telling method of knowledge transfer.  If you happen to see a gorilla then you may be watching the wrong video.

Agile Games 2011

Agile Games Conference 2011 Promo from Lollie Videography on Vimeo.

This was in Cambridge, MA April, 14 - 16, 2011.

Be sure to save April 19th - 21st, 2012 for next year's Agile Games conference.

Great idea - great execution - but don't patent - think public domain.

Here is a great heart warming story.  A group of Girl Scouts invent a prosthetic hand.  The device cost about $10 to make.  And somewhere in the process they are encouraged to patent the invention.  Why not donate the invention to the public domain?

Should the Girl Scout leaders have encouraged the group to look beyond the typical process of patent.  Think about the values of the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be:
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do, and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Imagine if "The Man Who Saved the Children", Virologist, JONAS SALK had patented his invention.  The polio vaccine.

We have the best tools - why do we not use them?

See Also:  13 Agile Tools to Use.

I was observing a Scrum daily stand-up for a new team the other day - here is one observation I had.  At the end of the stand-up the Scrum Master asked the team who was going to update the burndown chart today.  One team member stepped forward and started adding up task estimates (in his head) and then drew the bar on the chart (paper on the wall) representing the daily estimated work remaining on this sprint.  We talked briefly about the shape of the graph (classic downhill ski jump shape) and last sprints graph (similar shape) and what that implied.  There was no big discussion about if the data was truly represented in the information - because they all understood the derivation of the chart information, they had created the information (the chart).

This is a great break through for this team - because of the status quo in the organization.  It is not until you know 'The rest of the story' that the new behaviors become so awesome in my vie…

Agile: organization, movement, or philosophy?

I referred to Agile today as a philosophy in a conversation with other Agile coaches.  I got a little push back.  So it made me think - is that the right word for the thing that has resulted from the Agile Manifesto?

No.  I may want it to be a philosophy, and it may be my personal philosophy.  But it is not a philosophy that is recognized by the general population.  Nor even a philosophy as recognized by the IT industry nor software developers.

It is a movement.  Or is it a method of working?  I'm not sure - what's the difference? I believe that Scrum is a method of working, while I believe that Agile is greater than just being Scrum-y, or turning all the dials to 11 (XP).

However, if Agile were to marry Lean, then I think the union would have a great shot at becoming a philosophy.

So in my philosophy I try to marry the two movements and I think it makes for a philosophy.  One that has the capability to evolve via Double Loop Learning.  A philosophy should be capable of chall…

Humans resist changes - empirical evidence shows

The ability of humans to make a change is very limited.  Even when we know the change is going to be for the best.  Even when we know the current method of working is based on a flawed understanding of our needs.  We resist changes.

A case in point.  The common keyboard.  It is laid out in a some what random pattern of letters.  Yes it looks like your grandfather's keyboard, so you instantly recognize it.  But ask a 7 year old to describe the keyboard and you will see that there is no obvious logic to it's design.  You of course know that the design was purposeful.  It was a configuration that put the most used letters/keys away from the  powerful fingers, this was to slow down the best typist.  During the days of the early type writers the keys would jam.
I recently watch a young lady switch the Wii keyboard from QWERTY to a 9-digit telephone keypad, because it was easier.  At least the letters are in a predictable pattern (ABC1, DEF2, etc.).

Innovation in the typewriter took q…

Epochs in the big picture

If you haven't thought about the universe today - now would be a good time.  It may be the only time you really have.  However we tend to measure things, we humans tend to only think in terms of our personal scale.  We measure our lives in birthdays (an unassuming point where a crowded planet completes an almost circular orbit about a yellow star).  But what are the true delineating points in the history of the universe?

One would most certainly have to be the Big Bang!  I mean - come-on, the point at which nothingness turns into somethingness - that's the start of something.  But measuring from that point 13.7 billion years ago, what's the next important event?

13.7 billion years ago:  Big Bang!Just 380,000 years later the atoms of Hyrdogen & Helium start to form.Just 200 million years later stars begin to form.
These are just the first 3 Thresholds of Increasing Complexity (David Christian, Big History Project).  They have happened at the very beginning of time.  Rath…

A Burndown chart that radiates progress

Here is a visual example of a team learning the value of a Scrum Sprint Burndown chart.  To give some context to the images below - the team did a 3 day workshop on Scrum between sprint 1 & sprint 2.  In this workshop we laid down some working agreements, one of which was they would use a physical Scrum task board with several major items.  One item was the burndown chart derived from task hours estimated remaining each day.  This team knew they were under committed for the sprint but wished to get started sprinting (a good choice rather than spend more time in sprint planning with so much uncertainty).  They felt they could get to working on about 5 high priority stories and plan to replan (pull into the sprint more stories) later in the week.  They assumed that learning about the uncertainty was better than crystal ball gazing.

The team started with 64 units (estimated task hours) of work.  On the fourth day they decided to bring in more stories with estimated 24 units of work. …

One on One Coaching tool for iPhone

How much do you coach someone via simple one-on-one conversation?  Is that conversation an active listening conversation?  Is there an App for that?

Why yes, there is the Talk-o-Meter.

Imagine if we had one of these Apps for pair-programming.  It would be a Type-o-Meter.  Hooked into the pair programming work station to measure the key strokes of each of the two keyboards.  Hey, that sounds like a great idea.

I'm a Single Track guy

Do you believe you are more productive because you think you can multitask?  Studies show you are wrong.  Why do we believe we can; why do we think we are super-special and have powers above the average?  Answer: (pay attention) cognitive bias - attentional bias.

Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study showsPeople who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found."

I think I will lower my personal kanban work-in-process limit to ONE.  There really is only one (Highlander - then there was the sequel).

Just last week, coaching a new team with their Scrum task board we had a conversation on the number of tasks a person could be working on at one time.  The reason given for the four tasks in process on the big visible scrum task board was that getting up from their desk…