Agile Out Loud

Software, organizations, humans… in no particular order.

A Ramble About Metrics — September 7, 2018

A Ramble About Metrics

You’re sitting in the director’s office with a nervous feeling.

“So, about those agile metrics I asked from you…”, she says. Your stomach churns and pulse quickens.

How will you show the progress of agile transformation? How will you measure improvement in teams and people? And how will you avoid the trap of shallow metrics like say:do ratios and velocity?

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Scrum Guide Sliders — June 26, 2017

Scrum Guide Sliders

It was Monday afternoon on her first day of work at a new company and Sarah was feeling anxious. Having studied Scrum over the last few months, Sarah had been hired to serve as a Scrum Master and she was eager to begin applying her new skills, however nothing she had been told today seemed congruent with her lessons. As Sarah listened to her new manager explain why the company’s software required the organization to field a “UI team,” “service team,” and “back-end team,” she felt especially troubled by the phrase she’d heard multiple times on this day: “No one does Scrum by the book.”

“If no one actually follows the design of Scrum,” she wondered to herself, “why did my Scrum trainer teach it to me?”

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Starter Agile, Pt. 3 — June 16, 2016
Starter Agile, Pt. 2 — June 15, 2016
Starter Agile, Pt. 1 — June 14, 2016

Starter Agile, Pt. 1

babysteps

After sharing my thoughts on the insights Josh Kerievsky offers us through the lens of “Modern Agile,” I had a few readers request some insight into why I selected certain practices as “Starter Agile.” The comments walked the line between curiosity and concern, the latter being something I want to help alleviate.

Over the next three days, I’ll discuss nine practices and concepts that could be considered outdated as people continue to learn and experiment with Agile. I argue these topics have transitory value for brave folk learning Agile; a good place to get started… but others have discovered better ways exist.

Today’s first set of practices: timeboxes, story points, and velocity. Continue reading

Is Your Agile an Antique? — March 11, 2016

Is Your Agile an Antique?

words

From the point I first discovered Agile in 2005, Joshua Kerievsky has been one of my “self-invited remote mentors”. In other words, Josh provided guidance and mentoring from afar through his writing and speaking – and without the slightest idea of who I am.

A few weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to meet Josh at Agile Open San Diego. In the confines of open space, Josh convened a session that invited participants to explore his recent “Modern Agile” paper, which formulates a new lens of thought into the evolution of Agile over the years. (If you haven’t read “Modern Agile”, you’re missing out – do that first!)

On the second day of open space, Josh convened an additional session to explore a juxtaposition of “modern” versus “antiquated” Agile. This got me thinking: is it harmful for us to label some practices “antique”? Continue reading

The Wisdom of Drinking Games — February 29, 2016

The Wisdom of Drinking Games

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About two years ago, I met a marketing professional at an Agile conference and we had a lengthy conversation about creativity and ways to encourage innovation. After sharing with him the Cognitive Network Model taught to me by Dr. Robert Briggs, he responded that his firm was using “a drinking game“–sans drinking–before every major client presentation. In his opinion, the mechanisms of the game seemed to align perfectly with Dr. Briggs’ theory: as images are called forth in working memory, particularly in new combinations, people generate thoughts they didn’t have prior – leading to new ideas.

A drinking game for creativity? I had to know more! As he explained the game, I realized this short, twenty-minute activity had all the elements of a good Agile activity: fun, collaboration, and useful lessons. Continue reading

Rebooting Metrics for Agile — February 19, 2016

Rebooting Metrics for Agile

broken_tape

I’ve been measured as a 3.6 out of a possible 5 “performance” points. I’ve been measured on my sales volume per hour. I’ve even been measured on my percentage of overtime hours as a percentile representing “efficiency”. From salespeople, to service workers, to manual laborers, it’s nearly impossible to meet a worker that hasn’t been exposed to metrics as a form of management, motivation, or appraisal.

Deming, Drucker, and a host of wisdom spoke on the utility of metrics and, over time, business leaders have responded. An obsession with metrics is everywhere and there is no question that measurements of valuable business processes can help improve outcomes necessary for success. Enter the pursuit of (demand for?) “Agile metrics”. Continue reading

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

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