I have found a good blog about agile software development. Although software-focused, there are several articles I have read that deal with teamwork, personal dynamics, management and other topics that are generally applicable.
Agile Advice Recommended Materials page of links has been updated with six items. This page is slowly growing into a substantial reference. Please feel free to suggest things to add: web sites, blog articles, pdf’s, books, etc. Any thoughts on turning this page into a wiki? Is there an existing wiki to which I can move these?
I was running late for a meeting. Frustrated over being late, the meeting itself that looked like a waste of time, and overall number of meetings we have, I got an enlightment:
Meetings are a penalty for the lack of effective [face to face] communication.
Meetings are overhead. Trash. Wasted time, multiplied by the number of participants. They grow in length and numbers and the process becomes Meeting Driven Development.
But in a real world software organization we do have meetings, and no chance to eliminate them in any foreseeable future. The best we can is keep them under control.
Yahoo! has been using the Scrum methodology for quite some time now and two of the key people there have written up an excellent description of Scrum [pdf] along with a set of survey results from the 600 people using the method at Yahoo!. The best highlight from the results is that 85% of team members said that they would continue using Scrum if the decision was left up to them!
Aaron Korver writes a list of ten ways that agile can have problems. Here’s the list in brief with my comments:
The Learning Circle is a graphical description of the cyclical stages of learning and the qualities that are necessaary to go from one stage to the next. This method has been developed by the artist and teacher Garry Berteig as part of the application of Agile Work to his instruction. What follows is a short iterview with Garry after he attended one of my Agile Project Management / ScrumMaster Certification courses.
On the agile-usability Yahoo! group, someone asked about tools to mitigate the consequences of having an off-shore team doing some of the work. I have strong feelings about this.
This is super cool: TiddlyWiki – a wiki that you can run locally. Just download the empty TiddlyWiki.html file onto your hard drive or a USB key or an SD card, etc. Put it into a subversion repository and you have a way of treating documentation just like code: nicely versioned, flexible, easily editable by anyone, and just generally really really cool!
An agile consulting group in the US has run a survey on the results of adopting agile methods. Some highlights:
Scrum was the most-used methodology at 40% of respondants.
Time to market was a big benefits with 60% of respondants indicating an improvement of 25% or more.
And a lack of people with agile experience was the single largest factor cited in preventing or slowing the further adoption of agile in the organizations.
A prioritized list of work items is a key artifact of any Agile development process. Take a SCRUM Project Backlog or eXtreme Programming User Stories as examples. Armed with such lists, the development team will be working on the most important tasks at any given time.
The problem, however, is that assigning priorities to real tasks on a real projects doesn’t follow a simple recipe. The act of prioritizing is the art of prioritizing. And as with any art, there are always tips and tricks. I will share a few from my experience.
Two days left to take advantage of an 15% discount for Agile Project Management / ScrumMaster Certification courses being offered across Canada this fall. Locations include Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, and Kitchener/Waterloo. This offer ends on Fri. Sept. 15th 2006, 23:59 EDT. You must follow the above link in order to receive the discount.
I have just finished writing a first draft of A Manager’s Introduction to Agile Work. With feedback from you, my loyal reader, I hope to do two or three iterations of this over the next weeks and develop something that you feel comfortable presenting to middle and upper management. The draft can be downloaded from the Berteig Consulting Inc. Agile Work Resources page. I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.
I created this image for a presentation targetted to management. It’s a good high-level overview of what goes on in an Agile Work effort. Feel free to use this or the high res version… just keep the copyright notice on and put a link somewhere in your email/document/presentation/webpage/etc. back to Agile Advice. Suggestions on ways to improve the diagram would be greatly appreciated. I will try to update it… and maybe even get my incredibly talented visual artist brother Alexei to re-do it.
Here’s the high resolution version, good for nice printed material: Agile Work – The Whole Process.
Starting off on the right foot is just as important as it ever was. However, with Agile Work, this takes on a significantly different meaning than it does in other methods as the emphasis of what is “right” is also significantly different. This is a short guide on how to successfully launch a team using Agile Work.