Online presence of Craig Smith — Agile Coach & IT Professional in Australia

Archive for the ‘Agile’ Category

Agile Australia 2013: Visual Management: Leading With What You Can See

Agile Australia 2013 Speaker ButtonMy presentation with Renee Troughton from the Agile Australia 2013 conference called “Visual Management: Leading With What You Can See” is available on Slideshare.

Using task boards or story walls is a key Agile practice, but are you making the most of it? Visual Management is more than just putting cards on a wall, it is a growing style of management that focuses on managing work only by what you can see rather than reports or paper being shuffled around. Visual Management allows you to understand the constraints in the system, mitigate risks before they become issues, report on progress from the micro to the macro. Visual Management can also be used to demonstrate to customers and clients where the work they care about is at. This presentation is all about taking the management of your work to the next stage of transparency. Discover:

* How to identify when your story wall isn’t telling you everything and how to adjust it
* What the three different types of story walls are and which one is more suitable to certain circumstances
* Different ways to visualise your product backlogWhy queue columns and limiting work in progress is so important regardless of whether you are using Scrum or Kanban
* How symbols and tokens can be used to give more information
* What else can you use other than story walls to visualise information
* How to ingrain Visual Management into both the team and management structures of your organisation
* Visualising Your Quality, Testing and Team
* What is systemic flow mapping and why is it important

Lynne Cazaly did an awesome visualisation of the talk!

We had some great feedback from people after the talk as well as via Twitter.

Renee also has a (slightly earler) version of the slidedeck online via her Slideshare, with one slide change and one omission…

Brisbane Agile Meetup: Scrum Masters: The Full-Time Role Conundrum

MeetupMy presentation from the Brisbane Agile Meetup in May 2013 called “Scrum Masters: The Full Time Role Conundrum” is available on Slideshare.

A replay of the talk delivered by Craig Smith at the recent Scrum Australia gathering in Sydney

The Scrum Guide defines the Scrum Team as being made up of three primary roles: Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master. The role of the Scrum Master is often misunderstood, particularly by management, so often questions start to get asked such as “can I share the Scrum Master across teams”, “can the Scrum Master do Project Management” and “can the role be rotated”?

In this talk we will take a look at some of the misconceptions around the Scrum Master role, discuss how it fits into the organisational structure and tackle the age-old question of whether the Scrum Master is a full time role. We will also look at an improvement plan template to help Scrum Masters improve in their role.

Brisbane Agile

Here are some comments from Meetup:

  • Great presentation. Definitely good value (Gustavo)
  • Very good presentation. Good value. (Wilfred Brimblecombe)
  • Interesting subject, nice presso, Craig good value. Great presso, good job Craig. Also brill venue – good old Suncorp. (Derek Walsh)
  • Great presentation, thanks. (Chris Fortuin)
  • Impressive presentation, invaluable advice. (Carlos Augusto de Oliveira)
  • Craig did a great job putting together and presenting his scrum-master-view-of-the-world presso… (Juan)

Scrum Australia 2013: Scrum Masters: The Full-Time Role Conundrum

Scrum Australia 2013My presentation from Scrum Australia 2013 called “Scrum Masters: The Full Time Role Conundrum” is available on Slideshare.

The Scrum Guide defines the Scrum Team as being made up of three primary roles: Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master. The role of the Scrum Master is often misunderstood, particularly by management, so often questions start to get asked such as “can I share the Scrum Master across teams”, “can the Scrum Master do Project Management” and “can the role be rotated”?

In this talk we will take a look at some of the misconceptions around the Scrum Master role, discuss how it fits into the organisational structure and tackle the age-old question of whether the Scrum Master is a full time role. We will also look at an improvement plan template to help Scrum Masters improve in their role.

Some of the comments from Twitter included:

Victoria University of Wellington: Going All XP On Your Business

Victoria University of WellingtonMy lecture for students in SWEN302 Agile Methods at Victoria University of Wellington called “Going All XP On Your Business” is available on Slideshare.

Fusion 2012: Going All XP On Your Business

FusionMy presentation from Fusion 2012 called “Going All XP On Your Business” is available on Slideshare.

When XP and Scrum were devised over 10 years ago, they were created to improve the delivery of software development projects. As many enterprises have matured in the Agile adoption, many of the business users on IT projects are now attempting to use Agile approaches on their own non-IT projects.

In this session we will cover using Agile in a non-IT environment and demonstrate how the original XP practices map extremely well over to business processes. And how those in SD can help your business counterparts.

Throughout the talk I will be referencing back to specific examples and case studies that we have experienced
in our organisation as we have rolled out agile processes across the enterprise. We’ll look at:

  • Agile values for non-software development, including an updated look at the agile manifesto.
  • Agile principles and why they make good business sense.
  • Agile practices (such as TDD, standups, retrospectives, storycard elaboration and acceptance criteria
    and planning approaches) and how to adapt them effectively into a business process (using case
    studies as specific examples).
  • Mapping the XP, Scrum and Kanban practices to work in a business context.
  • Agile vs Kanban and how to decide when which is most appropriate.
  • What a business storycard looks like and why the elaboration and acceptance criteria are important.
  • Project delivery and how iterative delivery applies (and what delivery looks like in a non-software development project).

Agile 2012 Day 5 Review

Agile 2012The final day of Agile 2012 in Dallas, Texas and a morning of keynotes. It was announced that they had received over 800 submissions and selected 200 presentations. Also interesting was the fact that the band of volunteers have 2 daily scrums and self organise their sessions!

Keynote: Adventures of an Accidental Entrepreneur: A High Tech Teleradiology Venture from India

This keynote was from Dr. Sunita Maheshwari from Teleradiology Solutions, a video of the keynote is available here.

From Agile 2012
  • there is no such thing as a crazy idea
  • international teleradiology – started small, covered the night shift at Yale from India, considered too radical for Yale, decided to set up themselves
  • the one closest to the future has the best view
  • believe in yourself, if you can see the future and have a dream, push along with it
  • focussed on quality, first Indian company to get the gold seal
  • dream big, we are often constrained by the limitations of our own mind – built a big space to house a small company initially
  • tempted to a million dollar buyout – money is a distraction, could have been a one way street to obscurity (Forbes India article)
  • struggled with bandwidth, electricity, no senior management to lean on – stick it out
  • anti-outsourcing sentiment, particularly from the media in the USA, realised that people only remember that you were in the newspaper, not what for
  • Singapore had a shortage of radiologists – reduced turnaround from 3 days to 1 hour – quality wins, even when competition enters
  • greatest need is in Africa – use the same domain knowledge for social good
  • used one reading centre in India to cover multiple hospitals (efficiency of scale), covering USA night in Indian day, also have a team in Israel to have full day coverage
  • Singapore was using the same technology but a different need (turnaround time rather than coverage)
  • did not cause job displacement – freed doctors up to cover more patients locally
  • implemented a 7 minute daily huddle to replace monthly meetings, had to break culture of not reporting bad news – hospitals liked the responsiveness
  • do eco-friendly visits – use Indian electric cars
  • HR Consultants said they were doing everything wrong – ignored them, broke existing cultures – hired full time masseuse, wear masks – its not just the paycheck it’s the small things that make people feel wanted
  • people did not want to work on Sunday – despite double or triple time – need to find innovative solutions and constantly find innovations to stay afloat (Israel)
  • built own product – if you have a great idea, get help implementing it – RADSpa
  • internal software group – developers and doctors were not cooperating – told then to treat us like an external client, bid for the work (coopetition – cooperation in competition)
  • set up a new clinic – no business plan, just a doctor and good quality service – not everything needs a business plan, every thing needs passion – do what you love and the money will follow
  • and e-teaching – doctors and students anywhere (LinkStreetHealth)
  • the world needs pushers to take good ideas and get them implemented
  • if you decide you want to spend time with the ones you love, you will find a way – make technology your slave, not the other way around

Keynote: Managing a Collaborative Multi-National Team in Real Time

Joe Justice from SolutionsIQ and Team Wikispeed delivered this keynote. A video of the session is available here.

From Agile 2012
  • to improve our way of working, we need to fundamentally improve our institutions
  • how do you develop a car in a garage that gets better mileage and is more aesthetically pleasing
  • Wikispeed is all volunteers – some highly specialized, some just eager to help
  • the Wikispeed CNC machine cost $20,00, big auto companies have machines that are over @100,000,000, that is 1/500,000 of the cost! – better not because of the tools but because of the way of working
  • iterate every 7 days
  • ideal is to make society a better place
  • there’s a trend that is disrupting all industries, called Agile, all the 10 big IT companies are all or mostly Agile
  • manufacturing is like software 10 years ago, products are based on what the customer wanted 10 years ago
  • XM – extreme manufacturing – what the customer wanted 7 days ago – first manufacturing company to have that model
  • manufacturing is slow because the processes are costly to change
  • the Wikispeed car is built in 8 parts, completely interchangeable
  • originally started to win the X Prize, came 10th, while other teams were planning, they built tests (TDD) – had initial design on the road in 3 months
  • our approach – Agile – might be the biggest change since the industrial revolution
  • all tools to run a  distributed team are free, did not exist 10 years ago
  • newest shop is in New Zealand (none in Australia)
  • history has been building up to Agile
  • John Deere – open source modular tractors – call the process frugal engineering, when they built the 8030 tractor despite being over budget and people working over time they thought they had been successful – thinking about Wiki Deere now
  • MakerPlane – open source aviation project, using Wikispeed model, Boeing looking at their approach
  • Boeing visited the Wikispeed garage in Seattle – “our tooling is better, but culturally you are so far ahead of us”
  • Tait Radio- devised using a recorder to record noises for testing of emissions, makes audio devices, now using Scrum to build products – text fixtures are cardboard, had been doing standups, introduced retrospectives and team stewards – developed a product in a week
  • send middle managers back to product work , analytics and budgeting goo back to weekly funding cycles – get more nimble management
  • safety iteration – initially took months, now takes days, cost $10k for a crash test so can’t afford to run it every 7 days, but they learn from real test and run simulations every 7 days
  • went to Detroit auto show – was waiting for sarcasm but got “good job, go get ‘em!”
  • 2013 Roadster reveal – built in 2 sessions at the conference, only one person in the sessions had built a car, used pairing to learn – this vehicle is going to the Boeing museum in Seattle
  • Team Wikispeed members spend 2-4 hours per week solving social good
  • actively looking for product owners to find the next social good to join team wikispeed
  • how do we change financial stupidity? – agile accounting, lean accounting
  • using Honda parts so can be serviced anywhere
From Agile 2012

Here are some closer pictures of the other Wikispeed car that was on display near the Agile Alliance lounge.

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012

And, then everybody parted ways, until next year…


Finally, I recorded a short audio podcast for The Agile Revolution wrapping up Day 5 of the conference.

Agile 2012 Day 3 and 4 Review

Agile 2012Day 3 and 4 at Agile 2012 meant a large number of interviews for InfoQ, as well as some podcast interviews and numerous hallway discussions. As a result I have combined both days into one post. Here are my notes from the sessions that I attended.

That Settles It! Techniques for Transparent & Trusted Decision-Making on Your Agile Team

Ellen Gottesdiener led this workshop, her slides are available here.

From Agile 2012

Agile team values, starter list:

  • product – quality, value, just enough, validated learning
  • people – transparency, accountability, courage, mutual learning
  • process – fast feedback, all in collaborate, small steps, retrospect continually
From Agile 2012

They are a set of values that impact how we will make decisions.

Traps, risks and blunders:

  • group dynamics – fallacy of the flawed leader, no diversity in the group, inability to consider alternatives, lack of diversity in the group, group-think (striving for consensus  that drives down alternatives)
  • process – not understanding the key terms

Decision making styles:

From Agile 2012
  • delegative – group decision, decision leader may delegate decisions to a sub group
  • democratic – discuss and take a vote
  • consensus – leader and group together agree based on unanimous decision
  • consultative – where the group collaborates and consults to a person to make a decision
  • consensus – all legitimate concerns should be addressed that impact the group, stakeholders all need to be there, it is not a compromise, there is no bargaining, this is and/both thinking

4S – stake, stakeholders, speed and sustainability of a decision

We then created a 2D gradient to map out decison styles – delegate -> democratic -> consultative -> consensus

From Agile 2012

Ellen then introduced some decision making research, success was a decision that was used for greater than 2 years

From Agile 2012
  • edict – do it, not very sustainable, used 35% of time, worked 38% of the time
  • persuasion – used 49% of the time, worked 44% of the time
  • participation – used  less than 16% of the time, worked 80% of the time, delegated to a group or sub group
  • intervention – delegated but group had guidelines and benchmarks to make a decision, used less than 16% of the time,  worked 90% of the time

We then talked about values:

  • trust – contractual (shared goals and boundaries), communication (transparent, honest and frequent communication, walking the talk), competency (respectful of others ability of what they do on the team and learning how we can do better as a team, honour our agreements) – is a key part of making decisions
  • values for group effectiveness – people need valid information in a timely way to make a free and informed choice, decision rules that enhance internal commitment

Group versus individual decision making:

  • accuracy – better at group level – more alternatives, diversity, more points of view
  • acceptance – group
  • creativity – group
  • efficiency – individual
  • speed – individual

We then had some final thoughts and questions:

  • collaboration pattern – decide how to decide – need to make a decision but know you have made it
  • common decision rules – delegate, decide without discussion, negotiation, majority vote, spontaneous agreement, arbitrary, consensus  leader decides after decision
  • gradient of agreement – endorse, agree with reservations, disagree cannot support (but won’t block), block
  • 12 Angry Men – good example of the model
  • to reach closure – with decision leader decide on how to decide, with the whole group clarify the decision process, close discussion, clarify proposal, poll group using gradient and decision leader decides or chooses further discussion
  • RAPID – effective organisations have clarity in roles  around decision making – recommend, agree, perform, input, decide (like a RAPSI)

Evolve Your Agile Coaching Dashboard

David Parker led this workshop, his slides are available here.

From Agile 2012

We started the workshop bu being given 5 minutes to draw a fact about the group we were sitting in, and could not use any numbers.

From Agile 2012
  • use scrum to coach scrum teams – to get organized and be different from other coaches
  • scrum on a team of one – more forgiving because you know what is going on, you are all roles in one
  • create a project dashboard – 10 qualities of hyper productive teams, matrix on the wall, denoted yes/no using red/green stickies

We then created our own dashboard based around a scenario that were given.

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012

Fixing Broke(n) Governments Through Serious Games

In keeping with the theme of Agile in non-software, I was very interested in hearing about this initiative from Luke Hohmann from Innovation Games. A copy of his slides from SXSW appear to be similar to those he presented here.

From Agile 2012
  • San Jose, 10th largest city in the USA, in deficit by $115 million, Luke ran into the mayor on a plane…
  • games – have a goal, arbitrary constraints, interaction rules, voluntary participation (Jane McGonical) – most people think fun and entertainment when they think game, now we use the term serious games
  • serious games – advergames (get you to buy stuff eg. Burger King), edutainment (CBS have news footage for school students), news games, simulations, exergames (Nike have a game to escape zombies to entice running), innovation games
  • executives love games because they involve strategy
  • San Jose have a yearly planning commission meeting – worse meeting ever, after a powerpoint, all the citizens were given a roll of nickels to vote on the areas that needed attention (the smarter citizens kept the roll of nickels!), got an accountancy firm to count the results, what happens if nobody voted on health care?
  • convinced them to try an innovation game because you can blame the consultant!
  • first, what is the problem – had already cut the budget to the bone, so the problem was prioritisation
  • buy a feature game- give people 40% of the total, give them a ranked list, the reasons for the ranking and the conditions of the acceptance, they can buy what they want but they need to collaborate often
    • adapted this game to imagine these are the things cut from the budget but we have no money to fund them (green list) and here are the things you can cut from the budget to try and fund them (red list) – the goal of the game was not for everybody to prioritize everything because there are essential services regardless
    • people respond better with physical money rather than things like poker chips
    • for a serious game to be serious it must affect the player – they were suggesting things like cutting 5 firemen per truck to 4 to fund anti-gang warfare and park rangers (for example)
    • each table had 7 citizens, 1 facilitator and 1 observer – used soloid sticks strapped to pant stirrers that were held up to signal questions – blue for police, red for fire, etc… and the head of that department would answer the question, citizens were seated from different districts at a table so they could not gang up on other districts
    • red items needed 100 percent unanimous agreement at the table
    • because people are citizens and dealing with real issues they tend to leave their political beliefs out of the discussion
    • San Jose citizens chose pavement maintenance over libraries – if the mayor went on record to cut libraries then the friends of libraries group would have come out in disagreement but there is no friends of pavements group
    • planning the first game took three months
    • when governments say they will cut the budget by 10% they are never specific, made them specify that cut with a smart goal (eg. no new helicopter)
    • the agile community donated quarter a million dollars of services and materials pro bono
    • the government took action (reductions in fire, police, delays in libraries and elimination of services) and citizens loved the process
  • pushed the boundaries in 2012 – tested new taxes, buy one or none and adding new proposals
  • budget games are better than budget puzzles – about making cuts not about education and they are collaborative
  • prune the product tree – usually for road mapping, used this to identify community service projects, which got shaped into initiatives which were added into buy a feature that the city would seed funding for but the citizens would need to donate time to implement them
  • games work for business but needed changes to work for governments – hard to have anonymity in a way the preserves free speech, coordinating large number of players, minimizing bias
  • gamification – need to ask can the average citizen play this game, need to level citizens up and play more sophisticated games
  • Innovation Games have a network of facilitators and have built trust, but they don’t have all the people and answers – created Every Voice Engaged
  • buy a feature works – a shared commitment using a scarce resource, citizens now sign up to community service initiatives using the same ideas
  • called it a priority budgeting exercise instead of using the word game
  • all the numbers come from the budget and are reviewed by an independent neighbourhood committee
  • neighborgoods – reducing consumer goods, sharing materials in the community
  • draw roadmaps as trees so you can talk about the -illities, show the critical infrastructure at the root
  • our aspirations as a community should be more than decreasing the length of sprints from 20 minutes to 15 minutes – we can do better!

The final story Luke told was how one disadvantaged woman was almost not going to turn up the session because they had always been a waste of time. At the end of the game she stood up and said that she felt empowered because she ” had the same amount of money as everybody else at the table” and was able to make real decisions. Enough said.

Demanding Technical Excellence and Professionalism

Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin presented this session. I had seen most of this content before and did not hear anything much new (I also had to sneak out 10 minutes early to meet up for an InfoQ interview). What was much more interesting was a discussion I had Andrew Prentice from Atlassian at the Conference dinner about the validity of many of the claims that were made in the session (I think we should strive for them but Andrew seemed to think it depends on time and place and the developer).

From Agile 2012
  • bad code, 32000 lines of code in two classes (Order and OrderImpl) – what created that sheer irresponsibility? The fault lies with programmers – they chose to write it that way – that choice is always the wrong choice
  • our craft is defined – we have been writing the same sort of code for 40 years – assignment statements, if statements and loops
  • wear the green band – acceptance and willingness to follow my craft and unwillingness to comprimise the craft

These are my expectations from craftsmen:

  • short iterations – close the feedback loop, down to a week or shorter, deliver working code that passes all the tests and is ready to deploy, programmers should be working in short cycles 20 seconds or less (red-green-refactor loop)
  • never be blocked – never wait for anyone, if there is a blockage then go and fix the problem, don’t be stymied!
  • screaming architectures – does your code execute the use case without all the external architectures – should scream I am an accounting system not a Java web system, delay for as long as you can decisions about the database or web server , isolate the business rules so you can switch out the database at a moments notice, use decoupled architecture to focus on business rules, these architectures slow down tests
  • incremental improvement over grand redesign – grand redesigns tend to expensive and open to failure
  • clean code – output should always be clean and kept clean, boys scout rule – do a random act of kindness to the code (leave the camp ground cleaner than you found it)
  • go fast, go well – need to flip the professional bit in your head, the only way to go fast is to do good work
  • TDD – proportion is growing over the years, can’t write any production code until you have written a unit test, don’t write more of a unit test that is sufficient to fail, don’t write more production code that is sufficient to pass the  failing unit test, developers initially find these rules stupid, everything worked a minute ago, always a minute away from working code, don’t want to spend time debugging but want to spend time writing working code, development teams with a long list of defects over a page is not being responsible, confidence to change the code and ship it
  • 100% code coverage – what lower number makes sense, there is no other number that makes sense, personal ethics that the tests have good coverage
  • QA should find nothing – the QA organisation should wonder why they exist
  • statistical estimates – use velocity and it is not a failure if you deliver less, predictable team should have a flat velocity

After Dark

Wednesday night was the Rodeo Circuit which was an opportunity to collect stamps while visiting all the exhibits. I was lucky enough to win a netbook from the Agile Alliance.

From Agile 2012

Thursday night was the conference dinner that kicked off with a comedian and followed up with a really good band called Emerald City.

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012


Finally, I recorded a short audio podcast for The Agile Revolution wrapping up days 3 and 4 of the conference.


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