Agile Practices: Judge & Jury

gavel

I recently participated in a podcast recording over breakfast with friends in the Southern California area. While enjoying a mix of smoothies, acai bowls, and coffee (lean coffee, that is), we discussed a variety of topics – among which was mine, “if you could, which Agile practice would you eliminate?”

This is not to say I think practices should be removed from use. In fact, throwing away practices that Agile teams have found success with reeks of the worst kind of waste. Instead, I wanted to explore the extent of subversion within the group’s collective experiences and gather insight into contributing factors.

During our conversation, I placed my condemned practice on the chopping block: the “daily stand-up” meeting. Enthusiasm for removing this tool was (enthusiastically) not shared. Continue reading

Taking Flight: Coaching is not a Full-Time Role

scaringbirds

I recently hosted a learning event for Agile in the San Diego area and had an interesting conversation with an energetic young woman looking to find a ScrumMaster job. During our chat, among other concerns, she lamented on the number of companies that have asked her to justify the role as a full time position.

She’s certainly not the first person to run into this question: many popular Scrum practitioners have posted their thoughts and insights to this query. A common sense line of thought points to the prescribed role defined in the Scrum guide, while further highlighting the need to be economically pragmatic. These seem like safe, surface level thoughts to me. I’d like to try something different: a ScrumMaster is a team coach, and like all coaches (in an Agile work system, not just Scrum), no — the role must not be a permanent position. Continue reading

Tic-Tac-Pairing

working_together

The other night, I met up with my programming partner-in-crime, Deborah, to pair program and finish the great tic-tac-toe project. I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to admit, after uncountable years advocating and observing the benefits of pair programming, this was my first time ever navigating / driving “for real.”

Before setting a timer, we started with a bit of instruction on how to pass and receive between methods. I was under the impression that I couldn’t create a method to return something (bool, int, etc.) without first receiving data of the same type. Why did I think this? Your guess is as good as mine.

With that bit of futility squashed, we set a timer (10 minutes), and started pairing to update my “computer makes a move” method to select a random location on the tic-tac-toe grid (from current state where computer simply chooses an index in ascending order). Continue reading

If Only to be Heard

Image courtesy of Renate Dodell via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dorena-wm/

Image courtesy of Renate Dodell via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dorena-wm/

In starting new engagements or meeting co-workers and team mates for the first time, one of the first interactions I seek is deep listening to two simple questions:

What do you feel?
What do you need?

These two basic questions contain so much potential for discovery: there is nothing so fundamentally human than our feelings and desires. And, as my experiences have taught me, these are two of the most often neglected (even discouraged) aspects of humanity in our places of work. Continue reading