Episode 176: The Lost Tapes – Kanban For One with Sandy Mamoli

The Agile Revolution Podcast

In this previously lost and unreleased podcast from 2012 (we found it on a SD card that was thought to be lost forever), Craig catches up with Sandy Mamoli at Agile 2012 in Dallas, Texas and chat about Personal Kanban and how everything is bigger in Texas. It’s amazing how much hasn’t changed in this time!

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Episode 48: Declan (Not Dexter)

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Declan WhelanAt Agile 2012 in Dallas, Texas, Craig chats with Declan Whelan, a Canadian Agile Coach at LeanIntuit, the CTO and co-founder of a new startup called Printchomp and a newly elected member of the Agile Alliance board. Amongst other things we talk about pair coaching, running a Lean Startup, the direction of the Agile Alliance and the future of Agile.

His talk at Agile 2012 (with Alistair McKinnell) was entitled “Simple Design Applied: Spend More Time Creating Valuable Code“. Look out for a longer video interview with Declan on InfoQ.

TheAgileRevolution-48 (25 minutes)

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Episode 47: $#*! Adam Weisbart Says

Episode 46: Raccoon Scout

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Peter SaddingtonCraig chats with Peter Saddington (an Agile Coach and Consultant who is probably best known as the face behind Agile Scout) at Agile 2012 in Dallas, Texas about Agile in the US Military, the top lists on Agile Scout, his newly rewritten book “The Scrum Pocket Guide” and the state of Agile (or “Raccoon”!)

Peter is also the Co-Founder of Action & Influence and his upcoming book “The Agile Pocket Guide” will be released via Wiley in late 2012. His talk at Agile 2012 was entitled “Scaling Product Ownership at the US Air Force“. Look out for a longer video interview coming soon on InfoQ.

TheAgileRevolution-46 (13 minutes)

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Episode 45: Team Wikispeed

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Joe JusticeCraig chats with Joe Justice from Wikispeed at the Agile 2012 conference about extreme manufacturing and using Agile for social good to create a 100 mile per gallon car.

Joe is the founder, CEO and team leader at Wikispeed (by night) and an Agile Consultant for SolutionsIQ (by day).

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012

You can also view Joe’s Q&A and keynote from the Agile 2012 conference, as well as his interview with InfoQ.

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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
  • radguru.net 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…

Podcast

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
[vimeo 9981123]
  • 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

Podcast

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

Agile 2012 Day 2 Review

Agile 2012Day 2 of the Agile 2012 conference in Dallas, here are my notes.

Keynote: Scaling Up Excellence. Mindsets, Decisions and Principles

This keynote was delivered by Bob Sutton, author of a number of business books including “Good Boss, Bad Boss” and “The No Asshole Rule“. A similar presentation to the one he delivered is available here.

From Agile 2012
  • organisations have centres of excellence – how do you spread it from the few to the many without screwing it up? (examples – Hendrick Motorsports growing from 2 to 4 teams, McDonalds opening 1,460 stores in China)
  • shared mindset (what people should and should not do) is crucial to scaling up – Apple has a secrecy mindset, Amazon has an openness mindset, so there is no one right way
  • a mindset is required to be successful at Agile – going to a talk or reading a book is not enough, you need to grind out the message and do the same thing day after day and live by it (Facebook – employee on boarding is a six week bootcamp where they work on 12-13 short projects, focus is to inject people into the mindset and determine their best fit at the organisation)
  • the never ending danger is that things might go bad (Onward Memo by Howard Schultz – growth of Starbucks from 1,000 to 13,000 stores, in the rush to get a huge footprint, the mindset got watered down – got excited by growth and left the excellence behind)

Choice Point 1 – More vs Better

  • strategic tradeoff
  • voltage loss – things get lost in the translation, sometimes this is worth it because it is half as good as the best but twice as good as it is now
  • learning curve problem – takes people a while to get good when spreading knowledge from the few to the many
  • overload problem – burden of the management team in trying to maintain momentum

Choice Point 2 – Alone vs With Others

  • collaborate with competitors (Glad Press ‘N’ Seal), open source is one extreme, do it alone is the other (everybody at Pixar is an employee, nothing is outsourced

Choice Point 3 – Catholicism vs Buddhism (Replication vs Localisation)

  • roll out to the masses or a central set of beliefs
  • cranking out clones – works in manufacturing like Intel plants, Sees Candy and In-N-Out Burger either work in a market or not (pull out if not)
  • replication trap problem – Home Depot is a DIY model and when they rolled it out in China it did not work in their culture
  • localised solution – Buddhist approach to tweak just as much as needed to make it work

Scaling Principles

  • link hot causes to cool solutions – fire up contagious emotions first, humans are irrational, to motivate people get them emotionally cranked up (but the danger is that they get angry) so need to have a solution to cool their energy (watermelon offensive at Stanford for bike safety involved smashed watermelons and subsidized helmets or the first all-hands meeting at Apple after Steve Job’s return where the share price was not good so Jobs declared war on Dell and charged up people to make Apple great or get out)
  • live a mindset, just don’t talk about it – do actions that are consistent with the direction you want them to go, what we tell them doesn’t matter it is what they do that counts
  • when in doubt, cut it out – reduce cognitive load but deal with necessary complexity (A.G. Lafley keep it “Sesame Street simple”, Baba Shiv experiments on cognitive load for 2 vs 7 digit numbers), go simpler when trying to sell a message
    • when systems get larger and more complex, you need to deal with the complexity – Ben Horowitz “give ground grudgingly”, add people and processes only when things start to break down
    • Hackman’s rule for teams – over 6 people problems arise, more than 10 you are really in trouble, optimum is 4-6 people, Navy Seals and fire teams have 4-5 people, any more is more complicated
    • Dunbar’s number is 150 (100 to 230) – the cognitive number of relationships we can manage, pirate ships only have about 100 pirates per ship before dividing, Twitter average is about 100-200 followers
    • as the team gets bigger you spend more time on the dynamics and less time doing the job
  • little things pack a big wallop – subtle cues mobilise mindsets – design things that people barely notice but have a huge impact on their behaviour (background music, language, smells and sounds affect people’s behaviours)
    • Kathleen Vohs money research – people are less likely to ask for help or give help, will work alone when money is the object – leads to selfishness and self sufficiency
    • think about the little cues you are sending
  • connect people and cascade excellence – get one group to mentor the next to spread the excellence, grow your own replacement to get a promotion (Zynga), make your initial group diverse because more variation will give you a bigger impact
  • the mindset is the steering wheel and incentives are the juice – money is an incentive but so are pride and shame, how can I embarrass them or how can I make them proud (using mimes to mimic jaywalkers, Ben Horowitz fines people $10 a minute they are late for a meeting – it is not the money that motivates them it is the embarrassment, gets them to pay him on the spot!)
  • don’t put up with destructive beliefs and behaviours – bad is stronger than good, bad behaviours are ingrained more deeply, to spread excellence you need to stop the behaviours, bad behaviours are 5x worse than the good, destructive team members that can’t be reformed can bring down performance by 30% to 40% because you spend more time dealing with them rather than the work (Barry Feld of Cost Plus World Market would look for two things when visiting a store – greeting me and the customers and are the bathrooms clean)

Traps

  • don’t mistake swarming for scaling – raising awareness is not enough
  • too fast, too far – when people say they want to scale quick and fast, they are looking for the easy way (you are fighting a ground war not an air war)

When scaling you need to be master of addition and subtraction. – everytime you add something good, you need to remove unnecessary and bad things to make way for the good.

I also wrote an article on this session for InfoQ.

Why Agile Needs More Cowboys

Mike Griffiths presented this talk, his slides are available here.

From Agile 2012
  • do you ever see cowboys looking after cows?
  • real cowboys protect the herd, select the lead, direct into natural flows
  • agile is humanistic rather than mechanistic, so is leadership – manage property and lead people
  • “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” (Warren Bennis)
  • levels of maturity (Stephen Covey) – dependent -> independent -> interdependent
  • leadership is the next step beyond management – to a soft skills focus
  • productivity – undermining / resistance -> passive compliance -> active participation -> committed dedication -> passive innovation – move up the scale with good leadership
  • model desired behaviour – same attributes of a good leader are modeled over many years and in different countries – honest (will not knowingly follow someone who is dishonest), forward looking (describe the future state), competent (don’t want to be embarrassed by our leader), inspiring (The Leadership Challenge), a leader needs to shield the team, remove impediments, carry food and water and re-communicate the vision
  • communicate a vision – like driving in fog, without clear vision you need to slow down, clear direction allows focussed effort and speed, Jim Highsmith’s kick off meeting vision exercise, reinforce the vision frequently
  • create a learning and sharing environment – “if you have two hands to work with and you use one to cover your butt, you only have on hand left to work with”, set an example and admit mistakes and share information, ask questions of your team, make it OK to discuss the bad stuff
  • share information / power – agile tools allow move from micro management to navigation and communication
  • fostering functional accountability – accept that conflict is good, Patrick Lencioni on The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
  • importance of the team – COCOMO Estimation model (Barry Boehm) shows that people factors has a multiplication factor of 33 (there is a 10x difference on good people over good process)
  • challenging the status quo – retrospective, “areas for improvement” works better in some cultures over “what didn’t work well”, retrospective action wheel, gathering lessons learned is one of the most frequently dropped agile practices
  • innovation and learning – if people are trying hard, then mistakes don’t really matter, Toyota collects lots of ideas with small incentives rather than one big idea
  • encouraging each other – treat people as volunteers, paying people just incentivises people to show up but volunteers are passionate, say thank you and why you are thanking them and what the benefit was, celebrate interim goals frequently, at the end is too little too late
  • shared leadership – aiming for teams of competent leaders (“Project Leadership” by Jeffrey Pinto)

I also interviewed Mike Griffiths for InfoQ.

Leading Conflict: A Systems Intelligence Approach to Conflict Facilitation for Leaders

This workshop presented by Michael Spayd and Lyssa Adkins was one of the highlights of the conference for me. The key takeaway for me was that “everyone is right… partially!” The slides are available here.

From Agile 2012

The workshop started with a discussion on the conflict we see on teams and then about why we came to the session and what we had hoped to get out of it.

  • systems oriented leadership – structured, holistic, organic, complex, end to end – move from the work level to a birds eye view
  • relationship systems intelligence – we are all in relationships – personal, work, departments
  • the human system is not in alignment with what agile does, leadership begins inside
  • see conflict through the right view – the right view leads to the right action, everyone is right partially, self organisation happens when all perspectives are represented, conflict is something trying to change in a system and not a problem to be managed

We then had a discussion around what is the benefit of the right view, is it difficult?

  • what is the difference between finding someone wrong as to finding someone right – go and hunt out why they are right
  • container – not necessarily physical but made up of behaviours, norms and culture of the team and environment

We then did an informal constellation exercise – 20 people in a circle, put the subject on a piece of paper in the middle, make a statement if it is true stand close, if not true stand away then ask those in the constellation what it means to you, need to talk from experience not what you think, remember people are right partially (take a soft focus). It is called a constellation because it looks like a star in the sky, speak from your experience, only people who wish to speak should

From Agile 2012
  • container – culture of the team, want to raise level of positivity and decrease level of negativity and toxicity, educate team about conflict and team agreement about digging into it
  • positivity and team performance – continue to abdicate your position is bad, needs to be balanced with inquiry – “not sure I agree with you, but tell me more”
  • all teams have an emotional bank account – positive interactions are a deposit and negative interactions are withdrawals, what is positive for your team and what is “flipping the asshole bit”
  • build the container – positivity vs productivity
                Happy camp     |    Insanely great
Productivity    ---------------+-------------------
                Prison camp    |    Sweat shop         
                           Positivity
  • emotional withdrawals – blaming, defensiveness, stonewalling, contempt, excessive advocacy – contempt is most prevalent on software projects
  • emotional deposits – appreciations (noticing people doing little things, in front of the group), acknowledgements, more inquiry and less advocacy
  • never praise people for the work they do, but for who they are, turn up acknowledgements and turn down appreciations
  • appreciative inquiry – look at the strengths of teams

We then had a discussion around our teams positive /negative ratio

  • dealing with cultural conflict – inquiry openness, use my land your land ” in my land we…, what happens in your land?”
  • teams move around the quadrants – prison camp is not sustainable, happy camp and sweat shop are intolerant
  • conflict protocols – team needs to come to consensus, leader needs to take a facilitator / coach role – what is the environment and behaviour we want when we are in conflict, everybody’s job is to call out the protocols when needed, not enforce them
  • be a facilitator – more helpful than resolving it, keep reviewing the right view beliefs (fake it till you make it), understand your triggers
  • process the conflict – reframe the conflict” “I wonder what this conflict is trying to tell us”
  • don’t want debate or vote, a prelude to a discussion to find out what’s true
  • we get triggered by people who are like us who exhibit behaviours we don’t like
  • Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher
  • to hear from silent others, ask “lets hear from those who have not not spoken” and then be silent

I was lucky enough to interview Michael and Lyssa with Shane Hastie for InfoQ.

The Product Owner Role is a Stupid Idea: Improving How We Handle Customer Requests

Jeff Patton is always entertaining, and I was not disappointed with this session. I would hope that his slides get published at some stage.

From Agile 2012

He kicked off the session with a live poll by getting the audience to answer the question “what goes wrong with product ownership” and then got everyone to move around the room based on experience, how well the product owner works (they don’t correlate!), internal versus external product development and the ability to change products

  • why is there a difference between developers and customers?
  • single product owners don’t work – whole teams own products
  • processes aren’t designed for success (including Agile ones)
  • safety isn’t success – Nordstromare a big successful company so they have lots of rigour around their process, nothing innovative gets through the net, so they built an innovation lab
    • waterfall model – step after step models have no feedback, Royce was trying to explain why it was a bad idea, experts have been trying to tell us why this is bad since the 70’s, traditional development models are safe
    • agile is the new waterfall – product owner creates stuff and gives it to someone else – someone to blame like the preceding process in waterfall
  • velocity isn’t value – being great at delivering software using agile then you should realise that it doesn’t matter, if we build more shit we just have more shit, we are not here to build software we are here to change the world, everything that happens (outcome) is after delivery, so need to maximize this, difficult to measure
  • underpants gnomes – a meme for something people are building but have no idea why
  • to get value you must form a hypothesis on how you’ll get it – this is the first shift companies need to make – how will we measure the output
  • one balanced team not client vendor – if we want to fail we can probably fail cheaper abroad
  • ideal product should be valuable, usable and feasible, product manager understands the value, UX or BA understands the usable, lead engineer understands the feasible, this is a balanced team – how should we build it, will they use it and how much will it cost
  • working as a team of comakers, we need to do a lot of mind reading, visibility is not good enough, shared understanding is what we are striving for
  • discovery complements delivery, morale suffers when we just build stuff, the thrill is seeing how well it works and debating the results and planning the next approach
  • story maps describe outcomes that we are shooting for
  • personas – don’t necessarily need to be accurate documentation but facilitate shared understanding
  • need face time with real people to understand, go watch people work to learn, then build models to map what you learnt (experience or journey map), when users explain a problem that should trigger an idea, share product story or product as part of a regular internal tradeshow
  • we need to understand the problems and find solutions to get us there, MVP (minimal viable product) should be the least we can build to solve a particular problem,
  • a newer version of MVP is lean startups (build -> measure -> learn) MVPe, smallest viable experiment so that we can learn and eventually earn
  • ready for release board – for each card, an explicit measure step and metrics, then before it leaves the board they need to learn
  • Nordstrom Innovation Lab learning loop – Replace the Mirrors – look for the number of learning loops, no idea on their velocity but we know how much they learned, just budget for learning – “life is better here, even though we fail most of the time”
  • you fail most of the time at predicting outcomes and getting value (Marty Cagan – Inspired)
  • making good product decisions is hard, focus on how fast we learn and how fast we get things out there
  • don’t focus on velocity and worry about who’s fault it is, focus on the things that matter

To succeed:

  • adjust your head – get out of the old client vendor model, be less like a waiter and more like a doctor and solve problems
  • take on the persona of a music producer – listen to bad music and help make others ideas better
  • be the film director – focus on the talent of the people you are working with, give direction and passion without stealing ownership

Industry Analyst Panel Discussion

I sat in the first 40 or so minutes of this discussion. Unfortunately, the room was so packed and the panel was not elevated so it was very hard to determine who was saying what. The panelists were Tom Grant from ForresterThomas Murphy from GartnerMelinda Ballou from IDC and Christopher Rommel from VDC.

  • should we stop focussing on agile adoption?
    • disagree – fewer people to execute, focus on importance, deliver benefits quickly, tackle issues like mobile and embedded
    • agree – not about how many people are doing this or certifications, there are plenty of problems to solve, a foregone conclusion, let’s tackle the bigger issues, adoption is superficial metric, plenty of challenges beyond pure software development
  • can you define ALM?
    • no agreed definition, lean concept of flow, includes the tools and processes
    • typically think about standard phases but the end to end lifestyle doesn’t work, now need to look at DevOps and cloud now, more complicated to deploy now
    • ALM tools are a misnomer, output of SDLC, fundamental issues with tools currently, we do not develop and done any more, need to start thinking about products and products have lifecycles
    • going forward will be more about traceability of past development and operations
    • worst thing is the name
  • what should we call ALM instead?
    • Application Lifestyle Context
    • Gartner are talking about this internally
    • nirvana…, once the new taxonomy is decided it will be antiquated, we are here to improve!
    • dynamic end to end process, software lasts decades longer than we expect it too, needs to sustain life
    • ripple effects of agile disrupts it
  • Gartner’s prediction of 80% of software development teams doing agile by 2012, where are we?
    • at least 80% of all IT organisations have some agile and 20% of large organisations, on everyone’s mind, businesses are talking about it, will probably still be another 10 years because big change takes that long
    • estimate that 40% of organisations are using agile, has blown past all the other methodologies, businesses realised recently that they’re not innovating
  • are we seeing issues with organisations part doing agile and part traditional?
    • often the only way organisations are initially successful, different processes (eg. software and embedded), needs to rolled out staggered and incremental
    • fair adoption in development teams, but now what does it mean to be a tester, lots of centres of excellence still exist, Facebook deploying every 25 mins scares the heck out of most traditional organisations, companies need to get to the right fit
    • majority of Agile teams are not purely Agile, use water-scrum-fall, slimming down requirements and deployments is not sprinting, Facebook analogy does not fly with corporate clients
    • need to begin where people are, approach what is the best for the organisation and adjust for the context
  • how do you measure effectiveness of Agile methods and compare them?
    • prefer not to speak about methods but rather patterns and practices, compare using customer satisfation, ROI long term for the organisation, organisations still like function points delivered because it is easier to count
    • one of the biggest pluses is on quality and that is subjective and hard to measure, metrics that can point like customer satisfaction, rework and defect counts, time to market also better, it is often a leap of faith
    • velocity interest is going down in industry, but many in the executive suite only think about velocity, a loaded word
    • don’t know soft value if you don’t baseline, now we just fix metrics inline and not all defects and features are equal, need to measure qualitative benefits to the business, will see more as metrics around Agile evolve
    • need to pull testing and quality in all the way through, drive better quality and user experiences
  • describe how you evaluate the tooling landscape?
    •  most observations come from end users, tools aren’t the key most important thing, want to understand where the market is going and what is the right fit
    • biggest differentiator is picking the right tool for the job and the organisation
    • there are tools that enhance Agile that were not built for Agile, and there are specialised tools for Agile, vendors do put thought into who they are targeting so you need to listen, we don’t live in a world where everybody gets their tools from a single place

After Dark

A huge thanks to my friends at Atlassian and Opower who allowed me to tag along to an awesome Tex-Mex joint in Grapevine called Uncle Julios.

From Agile 2012

Podcast

Finally, I recorded a short audio podcast for The Agile Revolution wrapping up Day 2 of the conference.

Episode 43: Agile 2012 Day 5

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Agile 2012The final day (day 5) at the Agile 2012 conference in Dallas, and a couple of really inspiring keynotes around using Agile for social good.

In-depth notes can be found on Craig’s blog.

TheAgileRevolution-43 (14 minutes)

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Episode 42: Agile 2012 Days 3 and 4

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Agile 2012Days 3 and 4 at the Agile 2012 conference in Dallas. In between roaming the corridors and talking people for the podcast (look for upcoming recordings) and video interviews for InfoQ, he attended a bunch of sessions and mingled at the after dark events.

In-depth notes can be found on Craig’s blog.

TheAgileRevolution-42 (14 minutes)

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