Agile Out Loud

Software, organizations, humans… in no particular order.

Real Values in Hiring — February 16, 2016

Real Values in Hiring

seedlings

Earlier this month, Jason Kerney–a team member at Hunter Industries and practitioner of mob programming–wrote an article detailing the interview process his team uses for bringing new people into “the Mob”.

This post dives into Jason’s narrative covering the principles that challenge the convention of hiring and seemingly radical tactics that answer a simple question: what is the difference between hiring a person and filling a position? Continue reading

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Can I Change Your Mind? — February 2, 2016

Can I Change Your Mind?

hypnosis

Recently, I had a very enjoyable conversation with a group of successful, talented software leaders regarding Agile. More specifically, many of the topics shared underlying assumptions about the role of Agile to create structure in the place of chaos and align people towards a common goal.

As part of the conversation, we eventually reached a point where a question was posed (in my best paraphrase): “How can we measure a person’s effectiveness in changing people’s minds?”

I felt that all-too-familiar sense of discomfort and asked if “changing peoples’ minds” is a responsibility or requirement of a job, whether it be a change management role, team coach (e.g., a ScrumMaster), or anything in-between. Some in the group expressed the validity and importance of such a measurement; thus, I’ll explore a question within: should it be our job to change peoples’ minds? Continue reading

Brilliant People Working Together — January 29, 2016

Brilliant People Working Together

kids_team

In sharing the message of mob programming, Woody Zuill coined a phrase: “All the brilliant people working on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and on the same computer.

Programming aside, I’ve always enjoyed this quote because it speaks to my personal career experiences thus far. In short, I don’t particularly think I’m “brilliant” or full of inspiring ideas. I’ve been able to do a few successful things here and there on my own, but they pale in comparison to what I’ve achieved with people/teams. Therefore, this post is a simple invitation to collaborate and work together by sharing our ideas… and I offer this blog space in whatever capacity might be useful! Continue reading

Agile Practices: Judge & Jury — January 28, 2016

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

Oh, the Horror! — January 18, 2016

Oh, the Horror!

thehorror

Practice C# program number two is progressing. If you feel brave and opt to inspect the Github link provided, you’ll probably feel the same awkward sense of confusion at the use of “progressing”, however.

This post is a call–or plea–for help. My console-calculator program is an attempt to discover how I might use object-oriented design and expand my technical knowledge. At this point, I feel as though I’m regressing into the same patterns that limited me ten years ago. In addition, I’ll share my thoughts and feelings as a novice trying to learn programming on my own – and what lessons I’m extracting for Agile coaches. Continue reading

Taking Flight: Coaching is not a Full-Time Role — January 15, 2016

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

C# Project Two: Better Than an Abacus! — January 8, 2016

C# Project Two: Better Than an Abacus!

bad_calculator

To continue my adventures in self-study and learning object-oriented programming (with C#), I’ve started a new project with Deborah: a simple calculator! I imagine anyone interested in second-grade mathematics will be giddy with anticipation!

As always, I plan to commit my project to GitHub and make it public for all to see. By doing this, I hope to encourage new friends to participate and provide comments, advice, and ideas. I’ll further reiterate that I am a novice, therefore exposing my code intentionally makes me vulnerable to ridicule and places me out of my comfort zone. Continue reading

Rubbish, Folly, and Hiring — January 4, 2016

Rubbish, Folly, and Hiring

blind

This is not a rant caused by a spell of unemployment, nor is it a cry for help or an invitation to a raging pity-party. This is a reminder of the convention of hiring knowledge workers, especially within the software industry, that we allow to coerce our decision making at the expense of our organizations.

In fact, the thoughts in this post have little to do with my present lack of an employer, even while knee-deep in wildly ineffective hiring conversations. Instead, this post primarily contains notes from past engagements where the hiring process felt like throwing darts blindfolded. Continue reading

It Has Ended! — December 30, 2015

It Has Ended!

cheer

If you’re not interested in reading through this post, but would like to be a mentor on my next C# project, please connect with me! Let’s write a program together!

148 lines of code, 12 commits, 6 public comments on Github, and about 12 total hours of programming/collaboration. My first C# project, a console tic-tac-toe game, is at a point where I’m comfortable calling it “done”. (Author’s side note: this is also my first program written since 2005!)

Every award winner loves to give thanks, so I’d like to express gratitude for Deborah Lee — my “team member” and project mentor — and Daniel Albuschat for being a collaborator through Github. It was awesome learning from both you!

This post describes a novice’s thought process for refactoring, what changes I committed to feel “done”, and my concluding thoughts on this project. Continue reading

Tic-Tac-Pairing — December 17, 2015

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