Systems thinking… another view

One of my favorite books in the world is Systemantics, by John Gall. This irreverent look at systems and how they fail has a lot to teach a community that is attempting to re-work the systems of software development. Much of it justifies the “simple set of principles, applied” approach that most Agile methods use. It should also provide good insights into anyone trying to develop and architect complex software systems. The best kind of parody is one that’s hard to tell if it’s parody, because it’s so insightful.

The book is available from the author at the Systems Bible page.

A decent quick look at the kind of material found inside can be found here: Commentary on the principles of “Systemantics”, by Anthony Judge

And this article goes into more discussion about Gall’s laws of systemantics: Bart Stewart on Systemantics

UPDATED: Best quote yet: “Admittedly, it’s not easy to imagine what a self-organizing car engine would look like, but maybe it’s time someone tried.” -Bart Stewart

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Bell Canada and Net Neutrality

Bell Canada is traffic shaping to restrict the speed of data on P2P networks.  Mark Kuznicki has written a good reference piece on his blog.  The piece is titled Bell Canada Hands Net Neutrality Advocates a Gift.  It’s sad but funny too.  I don’t usually post non-agile items, but I thought this one deserved some attention.  Please, if this is important to you, take the time to blog about it even if just to link to Mark’s article.  We’re using the tags: bellthrottling, netneutrality, canada.

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Agile becomes Easier with Useful Tools

For the last 3 months I have been lucky to work with tools and in an environment that is agile. My job requires lots of small projects and tasks and my job title is clear but my work is every changing. I like new challenges and creative tasks.

Recently our small team has been using http://cardmeeting.com/ an online tool to add ideas, set up tasks, and keep track of what the whole is doing and what still needs to be done.

I am looking for more tools to make our agile practices more streamlined and efficient. Any suggestions or ideas?

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Article on Risk and the Brain

This article called “To Bet Or Not To Bet: How The Brain Learns To Estimate Risk” is interesting, particularly because agile methods treat risk completely differently than traditional methods.

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Announcing: The Agile Clinic Service

Berteig Consulting with the help of some partners is now offering a new service called The Agile Clinic. This is not a typical coaching or training session. The entire clinic has a duration of just one day. During this day there are short 30 or 60 minute appointments made by managers, executives, and staff with two experienced agile coaches. These coaches listen to problems presented to them, consult, discover, facilitate, diagnose, and offer solutions. These appointments are designed to be intense and high-impact sessions. Visit www.agileclinic.com to see how this service can add great value and provide fantastic results to your company with a small time cost.

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Comprehensive List of Agile Practices

This might be impossible, but I was thinking that it would be cool to have a single reference of all the possible agile practices.  Obviously, since “agile” is not a single defined method, we must take the word “comprehensive” with a bit of humor (or a grain of salt).  I’ve attached a spreadsheet that represents my first draft (it’s in OpenOffice.org format so that you don’t have to worry about me spreading viruses – if you want it in MS Office format, email me at mishkin@berteigconsulting.com).  I’ve split the practices up into several sections including: “Agile Skeleton”, “Common Practices”, “Basic Scrum Practices”, “Optional Scrum Practices”, “Extreme Programming Practices” and “Lean Practices”.  I’ve stopped there because I’m not an expert on other agile methods such as Crystal, Agile Unified Process or Feature Driven Development.  I imagine that this list will be useful for teams to do self-assessment and to think about ways they might improve.  Perhaps it could be used in a retrospective setting.  Berteig Consulting coaches use something similar to this to assess the effectiveness of their engagement with clients.  If you think of practices I’ve missed or other potential uses for a list like this, let me know in the comments.  My intention is to convert this to a wiki and make it available under a Creative Commons license once it is a little more refined.

Agile Practices List (OpenOffice format – 68KB)

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