Check out her slides for the full summary of her talk, but here are my notes from the talk:
distance does not make a huge difference once you are not co-located – whether a floor away or across the world
challenges – time zones, culture, accountability, multiple competing stakeholders, latency in communication, availability and willingness, no body language
Albert Mehrabian principle – to interpret meaning it comes from 7% words, 38% tome and 55% non verbals – which explains why we have so much breakdown in virtual communication, on the phone the breakdown is 8% words and 82% tone
success factors – top notch leadership, clear goals, periodic face to face, frequent communications, attention to cultural differences, maximised communication quality
a virtual leader needs to amp up the skillet of a good leader – communication, listening, open dialogue, goals, team dynamics, culturally sensitive, results focussed, handle conflict
need to develop a shared team vision
develop a social contract – ask what are the values, then to get around understand and cultural differences ask them to explain what that will look like
fave to face inductions for new starters has a better chance for success
high clarity processes, the team performance grows as the dispersion grows
select people who are self starters, tech savvy, autonomous, actively reach out to collaborate
manage by outcomes not activity (as you can’t see them) – so need to agree the objectives, collectively make a plan, collectively monitor performance
GROW coaching model works well for remote workers, ask them what the goal is, what’s happening now, where are you at, what could you do, what do you need from me
build one on one relationships – regular deliberate contact, focus on those most remote, have purely social conversations to build connection
swift trust – trust that builds easily, SES has this because they know others have training, but one breakdown in conversation this breaks down
need to move from swift trust to real trust – do you know the needs and expectations that you team needs from you and you need from them, these need to me be met for trust, it’s a simple conversation we often don’t have, you may need to lead the conversation for others to reciprocate
virtual meeting – need to amp up how you chair, what are the protocols (eg mute when not speaking, raise hands, etc)
virtual celebrations – have lunch or celebrations at each end
have a ritual or something at the start of a call – a fun example is 2 truths and a lie or a list of words that can be snuck into a conversation
consider the richness of your tools
Korrine alluded to these YouTube videos on virtual meetings, worth a watch!
Craig catches up with two luminaries in the Agile and Lean space, Mary and Tom Poppendieck at YOW! Conference to talk about agile, lean, rapid feedback, culture and leadership. The discussion points include:
Making the link between lean and software development and discovering that waterfall makes no sense
Watched a couple of short, unrelated videos on TED today from entrepreneur Derek Sivers.
When starting a movement, it takes a leader but the first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. … The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader! There job is to make it OK for others to join and to make it more safe.
Whatever brilliant ideas you may have or hear, the opposite may also be true. He gives the example of naming streets in Western culture, but blocks in Japan and how eastern doctors get paid for keeping you healthy, not treating you when you are sick.
Keep your goals to yourself because telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen.
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
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
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
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
stop doing stuff that does not deliver value, not laying people off
spend time doing the right stuff, not the wrong stuff
think systems, not software – Southwest think employees, customers and then shareholders
optimise the whole system (software is just a layer) – Amazon is structured around it services (2 pizza teams of 8-10 people)
a separate testing team is silly – just handoff / afterthought, need to build quality into your product
need to understand value before you deliver value – understand what your customers value, not what they want and build the right thing before building the thing right
setting up a new product is a set of learning loops
watch for what is making people uncomfortable
understand your customers not by bringing an idea but by taking the team to understand the problem
there is always demand in a service company – fix issues as fast as possible, but that is not the game
consumability – how much effort does the customer need to go through to get value?
customers decide value… and therefore decide waste
measure productivity on value delivered, not features
work in progress is waste – customers are not interested in your long list of things to do
good Agile teams have a low number of defects
map end-to-end flow to find the biggest opportunity in your end-to-end process
40-90% of the cost is maintenance not delivery, the cost of quality is way higher than the cost of building quality in, don’t put defects on a list (track them, fix them immediately), root cause every escaped defect, determine why every one happened
problem with readable specifications is that the text is not refactorable – any text page will have hundreds of ambiguities
every organisation that calls itself professional should be doing TDD
Finally, a huge thank you to Nick Muldoon from Atlassian who helped me out with a space on this course. Also to one of my colleagues who reminded me that we should ask forgiveness not permission when I was dealing with some competing priorities!
Day 4 at Agile 2011 brought a full day sessions full day of sessions followed by the conference dinner. For the first session I used the law of two feet and landed in three different sessions.
Stages of Practice: the Agile Tech Tree
Arlo Belshee and James Shore led this hands on session to build a technical tree of agile practices. I didn’t stay for long, but I was interested in the output, which I found hanging on the walls later in the day.
delight is happiness, joy, customer success – everybody has a story or understands this concept
identify your project that you wish to delight – who is your customer?
what do customers say they want? – warning! they don’t always know eg. New Coke
what is it that core customers might not like about your product? eg .why they made the Nespresso machine because people did not like cleaning up, need to get inside their head to understand what you need to change
Agile From the Top Down: Executives Practicing Agile
Jon Stahl delivered this session, and I wish I had been there for this one all the way through as his presentations are always entertaining and informative. His slides are available here.
get HR to create their own room to map the organisation and look for patterns – finding the truth isn’t simple but putting stuff on walls creates conversation
create a tool wall – who cares what tool you use, as long as you are adding value
get the practice vocabulary up on the wall – matched with a booklet with more detail
when tracking practices move away from traffic lights and use smiley faces to track how people are feeling – don’t care about if they are doing stand ups but how are they working for them – good way to figure out where to send coaches, where the frowns are
transparent leadership – post and show your people what roadblocks you are working on
everybody wakes up everyday thinking they are doing the best thing they can – as a business the executives need to check each other to make sure they are working on the most important thing and allow each other to question
metrics – JUnit Max to predict probability of failure
Limited Red – calculates the probability of Cucumber failure to improve the way we work – found features that never fail – just keep them in nightly build – means a long build usually fails very quickly
use JMeter to check everything is up like a tracer bullet – eg. a row has appeared in a table
got 8 hour build down to 20 minutes by distributing over 24 EC2 nodes – but think we were solving the wrong problem
slice up the architecture and have thin tests to test them
Spork – helps to speed up the start up time of an application – hard to know whether to reload and it adds a lot of overload at the protocol layer, so almost as efficient to run the tests
people have core responsibilities but we all meld in our roles to be one team and deliver
I enjoyed this session, particularly as I read about Joseph’s company in Specification By Example. I am excited about the prospect of a tool such as Limited Red as well.
Telling Better Stories with User Story Mapping
Jeff Patton led this session to a packed room that included a live appearance from his children! His slides are available here.
how to change the world – start with an idea which is product > feature > specification > requirement
learnt that requirement means “shutup just build it”
outcomes result in impact – agile is to maximize outcome and impact we get
stories are a conversation about the future
stories are 5c’s – card –> conversation –> confirmation –> construction –> consequences (when we realise our ability to predict the future sucked!)
Kent Beck called them stories because they were meant to be heard
need to figure out the who, what, why – this is the richness behind the story
add a short title, add a description (story template), add notes, specifications and sketches and write acceptance criteria before writing software
stories shrink in size and grow in detail as they travel through a pipeline
start with capabilities or features (understand value) –> break to release size stories– > upcoming iteration stories (priority, UI design, business rules) –> break to iteration size stories (details user acceptance tests, small enough to fit in iteration) –> completed bits of software
user story mapping – based on story mapping in films
ultimately we have big things that break down to little things
Build story maps by:
talking to real users
brainstorm user tasks to help them organize
research and build from a narrative
discussions with users in front of a map drive out conversations
plan incremental releases as a team event – developers will actually read the plan
start talking about adding stickies and notes, finally get a fist of five for confidence
don’t prioritise user stories by ROI – target a user segment
like ripping a $5 note, the small stories are not valuable (Jeff actually ripped a $5 note to illustrate the point)
Finally, Jeff has a User Story Mapping book in the pipeline which looks really interesting. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jeff a few times and always enjoy his presentation and learnings, and I am keen to give these learnings a go in my next storycard workshop.
We started with an exercise – 3 things that make a great project – trust, hard work, common goals, transparency, clear direction, grown ups, togetherness, support, communication, budget, right skills, creativity, quality, teamwork, fun, support
We then discussed 3 things that make a great romantic relationship – trust, communication, clear expectations, respect, common goals, honesty, integrity, similar values, enjoy spending time together, depth, support, compromise, patience, back rubs, teamwork, equality, chemistry, humour, passion, sacrifice
there is a lot of commonality between projects and a relationship
flirting is about making people feel valued
need human touch to thrive, keeps immune systems strong
people who are happy and feel valued at work results in increased profit
introverts need to take care of themselves, take energy from within – they can flirt but it takes energy
extroverts thrive in social situations – if your customer is an introvert they may not share your energy
The 8 steps are:
radar – makes you aware of the people around you, takes confidence
target – figuring out who you want to connect with in an organization, who has the real power
move in – show interest, practice your opening line – make eye contact, making the person feel like they have knowledge, makes them feel valuable, interactions become richer because of this
back off a little – the other person may not be ready for the interaction, give the other person space
open up – being honest and laying it out, you have now created a comfort zone, you are also making yourself vulnerable, there might be some back and forward bargaining here
dance – have a little fun, create conversation – lunch, cook together, virtual coffee over Skype, celebration to mark a milestone, dinner club
get real – go through a crisis together, if you have flirted and built a relationship
enjoy – enjoy the relationship
have a list of questions to get over the anxiety
all good steps for people you manage
body language is 93% of communication
The conference party was entertaining as always. Here is me hanging out with Alan Bustamante (who I worked with on the reviews) and the gang from Seapine Software
It was great enthusiasm that I set off to Salt Lake City last month for Agile 2011. In the lead up I was a reviewer on two stages (Testing & Quality Assurance and Working with Customers), plus I was lucky enough (and apparently the only submitter) to have all three of my original submissions accepted (although conference rules, for good reason, restrict speakers to two sessions). Whilst its a been a month since the conference (I took some time afterwards to spend time on both the east and west coast of the USA), I wanted to ensure that I posted my notes.
Here are the notes from the sessions that I attended on day one.
The Product Partnership: Using Structured Conversations to Deliver Value
Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener led this tutorial. They started by taking about requirements by collaboration and leading a discussion on things that hinder and help.
Things that hinder: access to the right people, thinking about the solution rather than what needs to be done, multitasking, people not listening, customer not clear of needs, backlog too big, stories too big, missing product owner
conflicting voices for value – not just from the customer but technology value, we need to listen to all the voices
evaluate requirements – value, risk (such as technology risk, team risk, outsourcing risk) and dependencies (dependent on other teams or external vendors and requirements and dependencies where value violates the way we would like to build the system)
benefit – IRACIS (increase revenue, avoid cost, improve service) needs to be balanced with cost, time and delivery
table stakes – the things we must deliver to stay in business
differentiators – point of difference in the marketplace
Once this is complete we can now we slice for value and write a story. This needs to be the silver bullet / tracer bullet, then you can break down from there. At this point you can write the stories and throw the sheets away. This all leads to:
As a... I need... so I (value)
Requirements leads to examples which leads to tests. We can now link this to given when then:
Given: pre-condition (state), fixed data
When: action, business rules, input data
Then: output data, post condition (state)
It is recommend that you come to these workshops with some pre-planning but be under the agreement that they are draft and often wrong. These could be release or iteration planning workshops.
Now the forgotten heroes, the non-functional requirements:
design and implementation constraints – the givens, the parts of your technical infrastructure that are dictated or restricted – worth pausing and discussing if there are any options
interfaces – human, other systems and device interfaces such as messages (you could use a context diagram to illustrate this) – with the diagram you can start discussing the options / choices / possibilities
quality attributes – things like speed, stability, uptime, security, scalability, usability, extensibility, etc…, need to be testable and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) – eg. recover from user error in x clicks, x time
You can do this at the big view (business process, features, MMF, scenarios), pre-view (user stories, user story maps where you lay out stories left to right, scenarios) or the now view (buildable, scenarios). The granularity will change.
Need to have a structured conversation to communicate effectively. Face to face is the most effective and get a shared understanding of the highest value.
Overall, this was an enjoyable session. I really liked the templates for mapping out the requirements (despite the fact that these were essentially just aids for the workshop) as they helped focus the conversation and gave our group something to focus on. Mary and Ellen are currently writing a book based around this content, so I look forward to seeing that in the future.
Coaching Success: Getting People to Take Responsibility & Demonstrate Ownership
We started the workshop by competing in a spaghetti challenge (based on the Marshmallow Challenge) which consisted of the materials of just 10 pieces of spaghetti and a line of tape. The team I was working with constructed a tower of 35 inches, which ended up being the second tallest in the room.
There is a pattern in our mind that kicks in every time something goes wrong – creates angst and anxiety – responsibility process – a descriptive model:
QUIT – the pressure of responsibility and obligation can lead us to quit, an avoidance move, a lack of completion, active disengagement
RESPONSIBILITY – call yourself on obligation so you start looking for solutions – start saying “I get to go to this stupid meeting”, means you have a choice – we were taught that doing stuff we have to do makes us responsible
OBLIGATION – I have to go to his stupid meeting have to but don’t want to – leads to resentment
SHAME – how could I do this, how could I be so stupid – laying blame on self – premise is the problem, you can’t learn
JUSTIFY – it was raining, I dropped my keys – story makes it just – “that’s just the way it is around here…”
LAY BLAME – who took my keys? – not a solving position of mind
3 keys – descriptive model
INTENTION – wanting to get something done, get to RESPONSIBILITY around every problem in your life
AWARENESS – be aware of which level you are in
CONFRONT – ability to face, taking yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, comfort zone = current capability, confront = expanding capability – every person you know was once a stranger
Example coping mechanisms are: learn to live with it, it worked on my machine, they just don’t get it, it’s the vendors fault, it’s too hard, you’ve been here long enough to know that’s not going to happen, murphys law, we did exactly what they asked for, …
We then did a “Be With” exercise, which was essentially sitting knee to knee with the person next to you, in complete silence, for 30 seconds, to feel the others anxiety. Ultimately, it’s not the other person that makes you feel bad, it is yourself.
Confront is the angst of confronting yourself. If you want to change something you need to poke it, and observe the change.
accountability is the number one tool of management – it’s the way we manage commitments between two parties – its outside of us because it is us and someone else
responsibility is about how we respond – internal to us, and different for all of us
what people are signed up for is greater than what they are responsible for
what people are responsible for is greater than what they are accountable for <– We want to be here
they are both equal
Where’s the bottleneck?
what if you had to reproduce the code, if you had the same team and resources?
what percentage would be more efficient the second time?
modal is 70%. You would be better because you have solved the problem before. Learning takes time. Essence of agility is to learn and take feedback.
There is lots of feedback in agile practices such as retrospectives, showcases, standups, etc… If you are not going to do anything about it, stop investing in the feedback loop. The fastest way to learn is to take ownership.
Fastest way to elevate responsibility in a group is demonstrate it yourself. If you are saying people around you are not displaying responsibility, then you are just laying blame.
Exercise coaching responsibility. The responsibility process only works when it is self applied! You need to teach it so others can self apply it. Counter not being good enough yet to teach this yet:
Give yourself forgiveness, forgive yourself for being human
Teach this with a light tone. Make yourself the brunt of all the jokes that are below the line
Don’t go into agreement (“but I do have to go into that stupid meeting”) – don’t confuse the facts with the mental position – take time, breathe, count 10 seconds and answer – validates they raised a good question and allows you to respond – ask if you can push back on them a little bit, and ask them to identify where they are on the chart
Make sure you support – need to forgive yourself, let go and move onto a better future
Taking responsibility is owning your power and ability to create, choose and attract.
Responsibility is the design space. What do we want from this? Be clear with what you want and be clear about the consequences. Responsibility gives you power but also potential consequences.
There is a difference between choosing something and avoiding something.
As a coach you get to intervene in situations, so you need to act from a position of responsibility and check where you are coming from (move through the model as quick as you can). Ask yourself if your message is clear and does not sound like blame.
Advice is seldom effective so stop giving advice. You are transferring responsibility from them to you. If it doesn’t work they perceive it as being your fault. Instead:
Resist giving advice. Tell me what you have tried, tell me what you haven’t tried
If you must give advice, give three alternatives so they have to choose, putting responsibility on them. “If I were in your shoes I might consider a…, b…, c… What do you think about those?” One coaching company advises 10 alternatives, so you really think about the responsibility.
Finally, play the “Catch Sinner” game to learn the process:
make a score card
choose a word for today
make 2 columns – “get off of it” and “it got out”
throughout the day, everytime you catch yourself in a position of “blame” mark your chart
10 points for the left and 1 point for the right column
build tremendous awareness for each word at least for one day
There are a bunch of resources at Christopher’s website, in particular he encouraged us to get a copy of the teaching poster and empowered us to teach the process to our peers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this session, as I had heard good reports from this session when it was help in 2009, and this year it was listed as one of the most popular sessions. The responsibility process is something I would really like to work on personally.
The Agile Manifesto 10th Anniversary Reunion: The Big Park Bench
This was one of the highlights of the conference where 15 of the 17 original authors of the Agile Manifesto got together on a big park bench to discuss the writing of the manifesto.
Brian Marick noted that individuals and interactions can often be a beat up for people who appreciate tools
Jim Highsmith commented when asked about the next 10 years that agilists don’t predict!
they never expected that something written in a couple of afternoons would be this big
Brian Marick recalled that the stated objective of the meeting was a manifesto and it seemed miraculous that they left with a good framework . Bob Martin was just surprised that he has been to one meeting that worked!
Martin Fowler did not want to call it agile, he wanted a wackier name
Agile Manifesto nailed it as a baseline – they might have added “we really mean it” or “we are not kidding”!
when you gel with a team you get what can be summed up in 3 words: high quality work
great teams change people lives. “The manifesto changed our lives, and probably yours too”
many people who may have survived under waterfall may not survive much longer under agile, as it is flushing out bad practices
other potential names for agile were: adaptive, hummingbird, lean (used already), PPP, a bunch of acronyms, did not want a word they would have to wear pink tights and a tutu to explain!
Agile was a coincidence – people following lean in the 1990’s were saying agile is the future, which was good because agile has a meaning in the business world
the most argued item on the manifesto – iteration timeframe, executes terminology
the principles were harder to arrive at
biggest disappointment – everyone wants to be agile but too few people want to do it (when they wrote it they really meant it), the scrumbut
Agile Australia 2011 was held for its third year last week at the Hilton in Sydney. Once again I was honoured to be offered an opportunity to present, be an MC for speaker sessions on both days, moderate a panel discussion and run the end of conference retrospective. The conference attracted 675 attendees and the buzz over the two days indicated to me that the conference was a huge success.
For the second year, it was a great pleasure to be one of the conference advisors. As the conference was brought forward to June, there was only six months to prepare between conferences and lots of suggestions and improvements to implement from previous years. A lot of review, debate and discussion went into putting the program together and ensuing there was a good mix of speakers, variety of topics and sessions for different levels of expertise. More effort was also put into shepherding speakers. A huge thank you needs to go to Rachel Slattery and Zhien-U Teoh from Slattery IT for their commitment to the conference as well as my fellow conference advisors Phil Abernathy, Adam Boas, Keith Dodds, Martin Kearns, Dave Thomas and Nigel Dalton.
The following are my notes from the sessions I attended on the first day.
Keynote: On Beyond Agile – The New Face of Software Engineering
cooperative game – invention, communication and decision making
projects are in a position, look for strategies to move our position, no fixed formula for winning the game (competitors and the economy are some of the enemies), only three moves to invent, communicate and decide
communication – whiteboard discussion provides stickiness over time (can just point back to conversation) as well as proximity
need about 3 minutes of video to enhance the distributed conversation, becomes archived documentation to remember user point of view or architect design decisions
craft – a lot has changed, software development changes every 5-10 years and you need to keep up
people learn skills in 3 stages – shu, ha and ri
work in progress is decisions that have been made but have not been shipped and delivered
like lean we we want multiple deliveries per day – continuous integration has evolved to continuous delivery
in decision making, look for the bottlenecks, the person with the full inbox is the person limiting the work in progress of the whole organisation
knowledge acquisition – real moment of learning often happens at the end when the surprise factor occurs when we deliver work, suggest that at the beginning of a project deliver a knowledge curve ahead of the cost curve (a number of small experiments)
agile says deliver highest level of business value first but projects tend to always deal with the risks first – learn about your business risk (should we build it), social risk (do we have the right people), technical risk (API’s, performance, architecture), cost/schedule risk (gain knowledge about the solidity of the estimates) – you need to decide whether to deliver business values or knock off some of these risks
need to identify the tail to determine whether we deliver business value early or add more features later (Apple are good at this, for example shipping an iPad without 3G initially)
self awareness – the team is self aware when the team can talk about the team and where they are
Keynote – Is Business Ready for Agile
Rob Thomsett delivered this keynote, his slides are available here. He advised that he was going to run his talk in two sprints and check the heart beat halfway
100% of C-level executives believe that project management is too bureaucratic, projects take too long, business cases are poorly developed, transparency is adequate, they expect to be ambushed, steering committees are a waste of time, reports are not accurate
role is to understand where the company is going and deliver things for them to succeed
relax the old techniques like governance that gave a veneer of confidence
need to understand and remove the barriers by becoming an active listener
fundamentals like attract and retain the best have not changed
learn the business in which you operate and realise the definition of leadership has changed (don’t be afraid to higher smarter people than you)
need clarity of purpose, avoid constraint of thought and don’t filter based on your experience
resistance at the frozen layer – middle managers are typically the blockers so need to change the communication structure (for example, using Yammer for communication to give everyone an equal voice)
distributed teams always need a local decision point like an iteration manager
leaders need to eliminate information handlers
offshoring value proposition – you need to decide if your assets are a strategic advantage, do not offshore things that are volatile or if the project is too big to handle yourself (which essentially means you can’t explain it to someone else), offshoring is good because it keeps us on our toes to be competitive and continuously improve
need to look at outsourcing from a productivity point of view and not just a cost point of view (we are not buying pencils)
life long learning for developers – people have to follow their own course, inject talent and different thinking, look back each year and think about what you added to your bag of tricks
most people are capable of learning new skills, that’s the beauty of human beings
what does quality mean – quality is something that is fit for purpose and testable and maintainable, quality is everything
pushing agile into the business – need to agree on one way of working, once you are successful people want to jump on the bandwagon
Agile Architecture & Design
I had the privilege to introduce Neal Ford for this presentation, and his slides are available here. As I had seen many parts of this presentation previously, I did not take many notes as they can be found across other posts on this blog.
cumulative flow – look at the top of the line to see what is the scope and how has it changed (total features), then ask if the team limits their work in progress by looking at the time between the boundary of in progress swim lanes, finally look at the lead times and how long it will take to deliver a feature
work in progress limits allow the team to move through work more effectively
lead and cycle time report – allows you to see where your bottlenecks are
stop focussing on the workers and focus on the work product – so rather than lines of code look at the the value delivered
productivity – understand your teams velocity, throughout mapping stories that were completed and carried over
earned value – useful to measure how much value we are delivering (the difference in agile is we are actually delivering the value)
predictability – answering the question of when we will be done – throughput chart can show you if a team is getting more predictable over time, burn up is used to show predictability of meeting scope, release burndown to show meeting a date and demonstrate additional scope being added
use cumulative flow to track the cone of uncertainty
quality – defect trends and counts, most code altered, number of changes, etc…
net promoter score for tracking customer satisfaction and if it is increasing
get customers to vote on what aspects of the product they like and don’t like
for cloud computing track the features that are actually used
DiUS working on a fire danger smart meter and technology for charging electric cars
how do you demonstrate value when haven’t built the device?
had to work around the vendor for the smart meter because they had a traditional process for building the device – aligned project plans around hardware drops and had to simulate the hardware in many cases
used wireframes to drive design but had to spend longer on design to ensure it was right – for example, can’t add a bigger battery later
first drop was an off the shelf component board to kick start the software
second drop was a bare board that was the basic board without the LCD
third drop was the plastics without the screen as the component had not arrived so replaced with paper
challenge on how to articulate stories – had to break stories own technically
used Cucumber to test as there was an embedded USB port on the board – helped embedded engineers assist the Ruby engineers understand how the device worked
did continuous integration by plugging a device into the build server, had an issue about flashing the device when the code changes
hardware engineers slightly change the design with each revision which had affects on software design as well as having hardware for continuous integration
built own hardware prototypes and used local suppliers to cut down lead times (China cheaper but added 6-7 weeks to the lead time)
used mocking to show users the idea ahead of hardware being available
planned for multiple hardware revisions to allow for late decisions
these days you can send a 3D model to a design house and they can pop out a prototype, design exercise ensures that screws line up, etc
no excuses for automated testing, in the past it was not embraced in hardware, can test the integration layer without the need for hardware
no benefit in running tests for the hardware design as you only get a handful of drops
use automated test to ensure buttons and light work, good when you get new hardware and good for checking faults on the production line
had to learn about the hardware stack early on which challenged whether value was being added
firmware development not integrated onto the story wall
technical tasks are OK but really understand what done is
luckily the stakeholders were quite technical
Putting It All Together – Agile Transformation and Development Tooling
Philip Chan from IBM delivered this presentation, his slides are available here. I failed to see a lot of agile in this talk personally.
established teams – communication difficult across timezones but tools make it easy, different tools used in different teams,
IBM agile process – 2 week iterations, 2 day inter sprint break every 4 weeks, develop for first 6 days followed by 2.5 days for bug fixing, do acceptance testing for first 6 days and 2.5 days of exploratory testing, showcase on day 9
test management very waterfall for audit purposes
using automated tests and continuous integration to assist global team optimise processes
continuous integration – everyone in the team integrates with the mainline at least once a day
continuous delivery is taking the same approach as continuous integration and apply it to the last mile – decision to deploy should be business only with no technical barriers
continuous deployment is continually delivering on a regular basis – continuous delivery enables this if you want it
rare to find a company that is pulling in the same direction, so you need to automate in pockets and add manual checkpoints and then you can look for ways to automate them
risks – need to bring pain forward, which was the tenet of XP, not doing it is much more risky, there is pain and effort to setup, you need to look for a leverage point in your production systems to justify
if you do something rarely you don’t get practice, by doing it more often you improve which actually results in a process that is more auditable and gives you more confidence
is a good approach to shorten feedback loops, also allows you to give confidence to the business on delivery timelines
packaged software makes continuous delivery hard, important to look at the automation of the configuration as well as automated tests, looking for fast feedback to give confidence in delivery
need to push software vendors to make things more deliverable (this was a rant by Martin Fowler, that I tend to agree with)
make database changes with the same fundamentals – break them down into small changes and combine schema changes with the data migration and string them together into a package, tools have got more specific like dbdeploy and Liquibase support this and Ruby on Rails just supports this out of the box
DBA’s are the final frontier because they like to fiddle with scripts, need to bring them in or deal with smaller changes
testers tied to manual processing – need to separate the low and high value testing work, fear that they will be replaced by a small shell script, will make their job vastly easier, need to get buy in by demonstration
difficulty is always the human element – testers are moved from the backend to the front end of the process, specification by example at the front now, need to look at incentives and make them common between developers and testers
key is a business decision of when to delay so you can deal with business change, training, etc…
people are now used to the fact that websites or apps on their phones are continuously changing
gives the option to deploy to different types of users when they need it
Go was built with continuous delivery in mind, version control systems are critical because everything needs to be in there, automated testing tools are also critical, continuous integration servers can help if they have an extra build pipelines
Puppet and Chef both allow you to script your environments
need to place people in teams who believe things are possible
At the end of a very long day, it was good to network with attendees at the ThoughtWorks open office.