Agile Revolution and A Raccoon Scout

The Agile Revolution interviews AgileScout, Peter Saddington :)

[[[Go here to listen]]] to us pontificate and bloviate about Agile :)

Craig 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.

Elevating Performance, Sanity, and Humanity

[This is a review of Christopher Avery’s Leadership Gift Program for 2013]

We don’t always own it.

As Agile Coaches, consultants, and organizational improvers, we teach that taking ownership is critical for learning, self-organizing, adding value, addressing impediments, and continuous improvement.

The problem is… that even generally responsible people —  like you and me — don’t always own it when things go wrong.

Why?

Research over the last twenty-five years shows how our minds process thoughts about taking and avoiding responsibility when things go wrongAnd things go wrong a lot. That’s what we have all those meetings about at work.

This research changes the conversation about taking responsibility and demonstrating ownership. And that gives Agile coaches and leader a powerful tool for self-leadership, team leadership, learning, and change.

Indeed, coaches and leaders around the world are using translations of the Responsibility Process poster in their own language to talk about how to practice responsibility. It’s even available in Klingon.

Leadership Gift Program 2013 – leaders and coaches mastering responsibility. Continue reading “Elevating Performance, Sanity, and Humanity”

Stuckness – Getting Unstuck by Thinking Agile

I create my own sticking points …found my own fingerprints all over the crime scene. I have no clue how I’ve been so uniquely blessed with this ability to hog-tie myself without ever catching on that I’m doing the tying again. – David A Schmaltz, Pure Schmaltz

Stuckness...

Think of it as the superglue of life, or the Georgia clay of hikers and gardeners. Whatever it is, Stuckness bonds us to what we know and experienced. Isn’t that good?

Yes and No 

Depends upon the outcome. What do you do when you are in Stuckness? Do you stop as in “deer in the headlights” – do you flail and are now going under!

Do you instead settle your adrenaline and think through the challenges, see the common elements, compare them with your former successes? (thanks Seth)

Stuckness is a good place, a teaching place. It’s a place to ponder, to look for other paths and decide which to take.Yet, Stuckness is current and also rooted in the past. To move forward and away from Stuckness, be aware of obstacles in your view, such as always taking the “logical” approach.

Sometimes that  wee voice of your intuition should be heard.

Cheers!

If a Customer Asks “Can You Hear Me?” Will Anyone Hear?

When we stopped doing customer development, we stopped learning. @LeanCircle

To some, I’m a Suit. The only Development I ever did included using Lotus 1-2-3’s macro language to build applications and a business. I know only a few things about building successful applications for customers; how – I totally get customer development.

These things are clear to me:

  • You don’t build stuff (applications, databases, software, apps, websites) for yourself. You build these things for your customer.
  • Get out of the building. It’s the only way to make sure you aren’t just hearing yourself/ talking to yourself.
  • Few technologies fail because they’re not good stuff. Instead, they fail because they don’t solve customers’ problems.
  • You are not your customer, so you don’t know what their problems are.
  • Get out of the building. It’s the only way to make sure you aren’t building cool stuff that only you can love.

Customer Development

These are awesome and interesting words joined together. It doesn’t mean go out and speak with as many customers as possible. That’s nuts, instead go Lean. Speak with as many customers as possible who help your teams build MVP.  If you cannot find any customers…well maybe this isn’t a problem to solve. Just saying!

Strategic MVP and Iterations

Each strategic project is a set of related user stories – Liz Rice, MindTheProduct

The lively discussion continues around exactly how strategic is Agile if you constantly run short Sprints. Doesn’t it take longer to be strategic?

Actually no…The two concepts (Agile & Strategic) are not mutually exclusive! I read a very interesting article this weekend by Liz Rice who outlines exactly HOW to do this. She’s keen on being realistic and keeping on track.

Liz advocates using a roadmap and planning to prioritize User Stories needed to build the MVP, keeping in mind that it is best to not bog down in details. Plan for the predictable things and get buy-in from your development teams. We all know priorties can and will change, that’s what Agile does so well. Don’t sweat the small stuff but remember if you don’t consciously integrate critical MVP “must have” features into the Quarterly Plan you’ll be forever dealing only with short-term and “urgent” requests.

And that’s no way to develop world class software.

Retrospective 96 – Agile Fitness and Agile Workouts

[Scrum Tool Review] – SonicAgile – Manage Your Project in a World of Blue

[We review Agile Tools. Have you seen our Agile Tools list?]

We’ve been looking around for another tool to review and it landed on our desk for sure.

[Enter]: SonicAgileAn Easy to Use Scrum tool in Blue

The SonicAgile folks tell us that they built SonicAgile because they wanted a lightweight and easy to learn project management tool which the developers could coordinate the work that their team performs on software projects.

SonicAgile supports the basic features that many other tools cover as well: creating backlogs, scrumboards, and burndown charts. It includes support for acceptance criteria, story estimation, calculating team velocity, and email integration.

Interested already? It’s simple. You can sign up for 30 days free. Booyah.

SonicAgile Backlog

You use the backlog to create a prioritized list of user stories such as features, bugs, and change requests. It’s a snap, prioritize a story by just drag and dropping the story from one location to another.

Likewise, it’s easy to add stories from the product backlog to the sprint backlog:

Tracking velocity is pretty intuitive and easy as well. Try it out… and then try to overload your team. A nice addition is that when you add too many stories to a a sprint… the system warns you automatically:

SonicAgile Scrumboard

If you’re running a daily Scrum everyday, you can use the Scrumboard to view at a glance what everyone on the team is working on. Below is a view of what an individual is working on in the Product Details Page:

Every story can be broken into tasks and acceptance criteria:

One caveat though, you cannot close a story — and remove the story from the list of active stories on the scrumboard — until all tasks and acceptance criteria associated with the story are done.

SonicAgile Burndown Charts

Currently, SonicAgile supports several versions of burndown reports: Release Burndown, Sprint Burndown by Task Estimates, and Sprint Burndown by Story Points charts. Below is an example of a Sprint Burndown by Story Points:

Email Integration

The folks over at SonicAgile tell us that their system was designed to improve your team’s communication and collaboration. Most stories and tasks require discussion to nail down exactly what work needs to be done. If your rockin’ a dispersed team, or a team that isn’t local, you can collaborate through email, right? When you use SonicAgile, all email discussions concerning a story or a task (including all email attachments) are captured automatically. At any time in the future, you can view all of the email discussion concerning a story or a task by opening the Story Details dialog:

Summary (And some Technical Details)

SonicAgile is very close to being a pure Ajax application (which I like). Looking a bit deeper we’ve found that SonicAgile was built using ASP.NET MVC 3, jQuery, and Knockout. Almost all of the MVC controller actions return JSON results. The controller actions are invoked from jQuery Ajax calls from the browser.

SonicAgile was built on Windows Azure, and the team over at SonicAgile is taking advantage of SQL Azure, Table Storage, and Blob Storage.

Going through the system, I wasn’t too disappointed with the experience. It was intuitive and pretty easy to navigate. I specifically liked the ease of the drag and drop functionality, which is a standard these days. The color scheme took a little bit getting used to though.

Since they’ve opened it up for free sign ups and 30 days of trial, it wouldn’t be a bad ride to take if you’re looking for a new tool to use. Consider dropping a couple minutes on this one, you might just find that it will work for you and your team!

Why Customers Still Need Voices

You’d think customers’ communications with product management and product marketing is way better now with Social – probably so but when are the voices actually being heard by the PM department? Depends on who’s managing the Twitter and Facebook accounts, right?  And that job is probably with big “M” marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I love these guys but another layer for customer voices to filter through is just too much!

Sooner is always better.

Continue reading “Why Customers Still Need Voices”

More Value Agile Affect

Agile management overall is based on the simple fact that projects, marketing, business, life, etc., are dynamic, not static. You make plans, but things change. The best teams and organizations are able to respond quickly to such change and capitalize on it. – Scott Brinker, Co-founder & CTO ion interactive, inc.

Sharing my scribbled notes from audience participation and panel leadership – Atlanta TAG Product Management Society event, The Agile Affect: Continue reading “More Value Agile Affect”