Friday, January 23, 2009

Agile 2009

I've just posted my second session on agile 2009. The first one - experiences in moving from scrum to kanban looks like it will be accepted. The second is a workshop on finding possible solutions to the big problems in agile management.

Agile isn’t free; it comes with new responsibilities, ways of working, and a fundamental shift in principles.Certain legacy procedures and artifacts fall outside of agile, yet interface with the project in such a way as to make the iterative nature of agile development challenging – these are the agile big rocks.

What do you think are the agile big rocks? My candidate list is:
  • Performance evaluation of agile personnel – how do you motivate the team and the individual?
  • Agile software development within a waterfall business – how do you do small iterations when the business wants analysis, design, code, and test?
  • Agile PMO – Can the PMO track agile like a traditional project?
  • Scrum failure points – Surely Scrum is not perfect. How can you recognize and avoid failure points?
  • Backlog grooming pain points and resolutions.
  • Agile forecasting via metrics – how do you plan when you really don’t know what you’re making?
Anything you think should be added?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Skype and Twitter as an agile communication device

I've been using Skype for quite a while now as a way to communicate in an agile environment. It's pretty good for communicating but I've also found that Skype tends to limit face to face communication. Many times I've Skyped the person right next to me or at the next table just because I'm too lazy to get up and talk or I didn't want to disturb the person when they're listening to music.

I've also found that twitter may be a way to say what you're working on but again, it can limit true collaboration. People tend to rely on the technology. It's a psychology thing - developers tend to be introverted and comfortable with technology (a generalization).

So what do we do? Hold meetings (no)? Get rid of Skype (no)? I'd suggest that we slay the dragon by specifically pointing out that the tool can be a problem for face to face collaboration. Being explicit about the problem can keep people on the striaght and narrow. Face to face collaboration is certainly the highest bandwidth for communication. When you find yourself using Skype too much - pinch yourself and vow not to do that again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is scrum perfect?

In answer to the above question: no, of course not. But is Scrum beyond reproach and criticism? Again I hope not. Scrum is great, and it is a great starting point for many projects that are beginning their agile journey. But Scrum is not the pantheon of perfection. It can be improved upon, particularly if one looks into the principles of lean.

Scrum is not totally lean (of course). We can look at Scrum with a few questions:
  • Why do we have 2 week sprints? Isn’t that an artificial and therefore wasteful limit that batches up work?
  • Why do we have 7 people on the team? Can we have less (or more) and make sure everyone is engaged appropriately?
  • Why do we demo at the end of a sprint and not when the story is complete? Doesn’t this sound like batching work?
  • Why do we estimate story points in an estimation session? Some of those stories we may not played because of reprioritization?
  • Shouldn’t estimates be done ONLY by those working on a story? Having people that don’t work on the story estimate seems like a handoff situation.
  • Why do we work on several stories during a sprint? Can we just work on one and therefore reduce inventories of work?
I believe, that by posing these questions to the Scrum process, one can improve the overall process and work toward a better Scrum.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Do Fish Burp??

I've decided to keep my blogs lighter, so here goes...

Do fish burp? I know, fish don't swallow air so they don't really burp from that, but most burping really is caused by the process of digestion - the enzymes, and bacteria in your body that give off air when digesting. I tried to google this but couldn't find the answer. Guess I'll be watching my aquarium more carefully.