Breaking the Cylinders of Excellence (in the Australian Government)

YOW-Nights_Logo_stackedAt the recent YOW! Night in Brisbane (as well and Sydney and Melbourne), Lindsay Holmwood (the Head of Technology at the DTA) presented “Breaking the Cylinders of Excellence”. It was a rare experience to hear the story of how the DTA is using cutting edge development practices to help the government catch up with, and even exceed, the public sector. 

  • DTA – aid transformation in government, small agency
  • Delivery hubs in Sydney and Canberra – help identify and plug capability gaps in teams
  • Prototype of how government services could work  gov.au/alpha
  • Digital Service Standard – 13 characteristics on what good looks like in government, useful in organisations as well
  • Cloud.gov.au  – government cloud service, usage growing, continuous delivery pipeline (which is a major change for government who are used to 2 changes per year)
  • The unit of delivery is the team – not about individuals, but the team – borrowed from GDS
  • Government is slow, but government is designed to be stable, they cannot fail, they have characteristics that are resistant to change
  • Myth that organisations must choose between speed and reliability, high performing organisations deploy more frequently, have shorter lead times, fewer failures and recover faster, but they also have a greater profit
  • Want to deliver like a startup but be stable like a government
  • Not a lot of cross pollination between departments currently
  • Read the policy! – quite often the process is not mandated
  • Document what works and doesn’t so it becomes a repeatable pattern – ie. running a meetup inhouse, don’t tell me I can’t do it, tell me how I can run it without being thrown in jail!
  • Stick with technologies the government is comfortable with if you are changing the delivery engine
  • Security matters – prevention is a battle you will always lose, detection is your best defence – aggregate and log in one place, identify threat signatures, etc
  • Embed security people on big services so it is part of the architecture
  • Proactive testing between different governments around the world on similar platforms
  • Simplest security breaches make the most mess – infected excel macros, leaving free USB keys in the foyer that are malware infected
  • Need to put user needs first – alpha mockup using tools like Jeckyll, then beta then live
  • Lots of people strictly interpret the design and delivery guides – they are guides not rules!
  • Create a longer runway by pulling tech forward – turn down the volume of design, turn up the volume of tech
  • If it hurts, do it more often!
  • Fixed cost delivery with agile is a thing, agile is a way to de-risk in the government
  • Don’t put manual testing on the critical deployment path – have special skills on hand for accessibility, performance and security

Episode 119: Agile (Raccoon) is Dead with “Pragmatic” Dave Thomas

The Agile Revolution Podcast

davethomasCraig and Tony are at YOW! Conference and get the opportunity to sit down with Dave Thomas, signatory to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and have a great discussion about:

  • Dave’s talk “Agile is Dead (Long Live Agility)
  • Agile as a word has become meaningless, don’t follow the off-the-shelf processes, apply small corrections to move forward
  • Story of Stone Soup is like Agile consultancies, the hard work is done by the companies
  • Scrum is a good starting point due to its simplicity
  • Raccoon is a noun, so not a good replacement name for Agile, because you can buy a pound of it
  • 1,000 working on one thing can never be Agile, you have to make enterprises agile before you can run an agile project
  • The values in the Agile Manifesto hold up well, would have been nice to have had more diversity, had no expectation they were…

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Episode 118: YOW! 2015 Brisbane Vox Pop

The Agile Revolution Podcast

yow_2015_conference_-stacked-pngCraig and Tony are once again roaming the lunch hall at YOW! 2015 in Brisbane, where they catch up with a number of people including:

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Episode 117: The Changing Role of a Tester with Mark Pedersen

The Agile Revolution Podcast

mpCraig is at the YOW! Connected conference and talks to Mark Pedersen, the CTO at KJR, and they talk all things quality and testing:

  • the changing role of a tester in an Agile environment, it clarifies the role rather than making it blurrier
  • in an Agile environment it does not make sense to have a Test Manager role anymore
  • the number of dedicated testing roles are decreasing, but becoming more important and valuable
  • most organisations say that they use both waterfall and agile frequently
  • build your skills in either a quasi analysis / product owner / acceptance criteria role or get up to speed with sensible technical automation tools for your tech stack
  • TDD – good idea but not many organsations practicing it in a dedicated way, unit testing in most industries is a luxury
  • BDD – does not make TDD obsolete, defining acceptance criteria upfront helps understand…

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Agile Brisbane – Agile Coaching Nightmares: Lessons We Can Learn From Gordon Ramsay

AgileBrisbaneMy presentation from the Agile Brisbane meetup called “Agile Coaching Nightmares: Lessons We Can Learn From Gordon Ramsay” is available on Slideshare.

When you look for inspiration in the Agile Coaching community, the name Gordon Ramsay is probably not the first name to come to mind. He has been known to be belligerent, condescending and downright rude, but underneath this brute facade is a treasure trove of skills and talents that influence change.

In this presentation we will draw insights from his ‘Kitchen Nightmare’ escapades and draw parallels with how much his work aligns with that of an Agile Coach and the goal to successfully drive change and introduce a number of models and techniques that are indispensable in the coaching toolkit.

Some pictures:

Here are some tweets and feedback from the talk:

First time to Agile meetup, exceeded expectation, will be back – Steve S

Awesome presentation. Thanks very much Craig! – Emi

This was my first Agile meetup. A great presentation and a well run event. – David Wilkinson

Excellent presentation. Some great reminders! – BronwynSC

This was my first time and it was a great presentation – Arthur

Always a pleasure hearing you speak Craig. I’ll be sharing your slides with the Elabor8 team! – Ryan McKergow

Thanks for a great presentation – Rob Lawes

 

 

Episode 116: The Heart of Modern Agile

The Agile Revolution Podcast

heartmodernagileCraig and Tony are sipping a sarsaparilla or two on a balcony in Brisbane and start trying to dissect the state and heart of modern agility:

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Episode 115: Connecting Developers & Designers with Chris van Raay & Tom Brodhurst-Hill

The Agile Revolution Podcast

115At the YOW! Connected conference, Craig sits down with Chris van Raay and Tom Brodhurst-Hill and talks about bridging the gaps between developers and designers:

  • Chris van Raay talk “Bridging the Designer – Developer Divide
  • Tom Brodhurst-Hill talk “Design Driven Mobile Development
  • Typically most organisations have separated development and design teams which results in a very linear process
  • Need simple design documentation as a “single source of truth” because you shouldn’t need to specify styles more than once and it helps reduce effort and obtain a consistent design
  • Use tools such as PaintCode to create a colour palette which serves as documentation as well as a static analysis test
  • Need leadership to ensure there is an agreed approach, set the standards and create discipline
  • When building features need to decide when to leave work that is consistent across features, in relation to design, this should be…

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Agile 2016 Keynote: Modern Agile

InfoQAt the recent Agile 2016 conference in Atlanta, Joshua Kerievsky, CEO of Industrial Logic and author of ‘Refactoring to Patterns’ gave a thought provoking keynote around the idea of Modern Agile.

Modern Agile WheelSource: Agile 2016 Keynote: Modern Agile

Agile Alliance Elects 2017 Board of Directors (and I am one of them!)

Agile AllianceI was honoured to be elected to the Agile Alliance Board of Directors at the recent Agile 2016 conference in Atlanta. My term commences in January 2017. I have always been a supporter of the many initiatives that are run by the Agile Alliance and I am looking forward to continuing the great work of building the Agile community.

This is the press release from the Agile Alliance:

Slate overwhelmingly approved at annual member meeting during Agile2016 conference

Portland, Ore, August 4, 2016 — Agile Alliance, a global nonprofit organization committed to advancing Agile development principles and practices, today announced that it has overwhelmingly approved the slate of candidates put forth for the 2017 Board of Directors. The board — comprised of Agile thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds — shares its passion to deliver software better every day with Agile professionals around the world.

Results for the 2017 election were reported to the Agile Alliance membership by Board Secretary Shane Hastie at the annual membership meeting held July 27 at Agile2016, the organization’s annual North American conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Agile Alliance membership elected three members to two-year terms on the Board of Directors – Juan Banda (Bolivia) was re-elected, and Ellen Grove (Canada) and Craig Smith (Australia) were newly-elected. All three will assume their board seats on January 1, 2017.

  • Juan Banda founded Percella, an Agile consulting and training company headquartered in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He is passionate about serving his team, clients and community by building beautifully crafted software. Banda has served on the board since 2013.
  • Ellen Grove hails from Canada. She is an Agile coach and trainer at Agile Partnership in Montreal where she helps teams to do better work by coaching them to create the circumstance in which they can work most productively and effectively.
  • Craig Smith is an Agile coach and director at Unbound DNA, a consulting company in Brisbane, Australia. An Agile practitioner for more than ten years, he is one of his country’s heaviest contributors to the local Agile community. Craig was on the program team for last year’s Agile Alliance Technical Conference.

 

Other 2017 board members include Rebecca Parsons (Chair, USA), Linda Cook (Treasurer, USA), Declan Whelan (Canada), Stephanie Davis (USA), Victor Hugo Germano (Brazil), Paul Hammond (England), and Phil Brock (Managing Director, USA). The board wishes to thank outgoing members Ola Ellnestam (Sweden) and Shane Hastie (Secretary, New Zealand) for their years of service in furthering Agile Alliance’s goals.

About Agile Alliance

Agile Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the concepts of Agile software development as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. With nearly 33,000 members and subscribers around the globe, Agile Alliance is driven by the principles of Agile methodologies and the value delivered to developers, organizations and end users. Agile Alliance organizes the annual North American Agile20xx Conference, the industry’s premier event that attracts practitioners, academia, business and vendor-partner community members worldwide.

Media Contact

Pam Dyer
Marketing Chief, Agile Alliance

This was my candidate statement for the slate:

Craig Smith (Australia)

I have been active in the IT industry for over 20 years covering many roles within software development and testing lifecycle. I have been an Agile practitioner for over 10 years as an Agile Coach and accredited trainer. I am an organiser of the Agile Brisbane Meetup Group, a long-term advisor to the Agile Australia conference, director of the YOW! development conference in Australia, co-host of the Agile Revolution podcast and an Agile Editor for InfoQ, I have contributed to a large number international conferences as both a speaker as well as behind the scenes in numerous program committee roles. I have spent many years contributing to the growth of the Agile community in Australia with a primary aim of helping teams deliver quality outcomes.

The role of the Agile Alliance is to support those who explore and apply Agile principles and practices to make the software industry productive, humane, and sustainable. I believe that we need to continue to encourage new and innovative ways to help the worldwide Agile community grow whilst helping spread the values, principles and practices to other disciplines that wish to learn and adapt approaches to agility in their respective domains.

Agile has continuous improvement at its heart and a core challenge for the Agile Alliance is to bring the combination of process and technical practices closer together whilst looking further left and right to the upstream business and downstream users. As a board member, I hope to represent the thoughts and direction of the worldwide Agile community in all of its forms and continue to ensure that the original values and principals are upheld.

Social Good and Flying Robots

YOW-Nights_Logo_stackedAt the recent YOW! Night in Melbourne (as well and Sydney and Brisbane), Daryl Wilding-McBride (the CTO of DiUS) presented “What I Learned while Teaching Kids at Flying Robot School”. It was an interesting story on the importance of social good for those of us in the technical space.

  • Waking hours capacity – families, hobbies, paid work, unpaid work
  • Not all work has equal social impact – pays the bills > interesting > impactful > worthwhile
  • Worthwhile work creates a legacy and passes the BBQ test (something you are proud to convey and recognised as value by the other person)
  • 80000hours.org – the average hours you have from university to retirement, help you decide how to spend that time and be effective
  • William MacAskill “Doing Good Better” – how do you know your social impact is not being wasted – doing good, lean
  • Dimensions for measuring social impact – scale, neglectedness, tractability, personal fit
  • A lot of untapped potential in rural areas
  • Interest in science and maths drops considerably between year 6 and year 9
  • Number of girls continuing with maths after year 10 – 21% drop out, and for boys and girls the percentage has tripled over the last 10 years
  • Flying Robot School – started 2014, overcome barriers for rural schools, free program to lower barrier of entry, blend of technologists and teachers
  • Drones are not only fun but are a self contained package that cuts across science, maths and technology
  • Had lofty goals on topics to teach, but had to prioritise to mix theory and practice
  • Other social outlets – Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), Code Club, FIRST Robotics, NodeBots, Robogals
  • We have an obligation as technologists to make things better