State of Agile‚ĄĘ is Out – Oh Fancy Lookin’

I always look forward to reading VersionOne’s State of Agile report. It’s out this week and this year VersionOne has done something p.h.a.t. with the format.

In addition to the long PDF they always publish, this year the State of Agile has its own Web site! For all you old-timers who hate change, you can still download the full report, where there are lots of juicy stats to help you make wiser decisions around your agile initiatives. The new site simply makes it easier for us lazy slackers who just want the highlights spoon-fed to us. VersionOne has broken down the most interesting data into 5 main sections:

  • ¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Why Agile?
  • ¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Scale Agile
  • ¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Practices & Tools
  • ¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Agile Momentum
  • ¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†About the Survey/Survey Demographics

What‚Äôs the most interesting thing I found from picking through it? Hmmm, tough call. But I think I‚Äôll go with the¬†new chart¬†that cross-tabulates the¬†top reasons people go agile¬†vs. the¬†top areas where agile delivers ACTUAL improvements. Pretty interesting to see proof that agile actually delivers on what‚Äôs most important when you compare people‚Äôs general pre-implementation ‚Äúwish-list‚ÄĚ to reported benefits afterward.

Oh, and the site finally solves the problem of Googling past years’ reports when you want to see how data has been trending over the years. All historical data back to 2006 is on the site. Nice work, VersionOne!

You should definitely check it out at StateofAgile.com. Share the whole site or just individual stats; they’ve made it super easy! Got a comment? Speak up here; I’d love to know what you think.

The Best Audio Visual Tool is the Presenter

To be honest, I’m not a super-fan of using audio and visual tools in presentations, coaching sessions, and training – this is more about the overuse of these tools and technology and how they are oftentimes digital crutches for the presenter to gloss over the fact that the trainer is boring, the content is unappealing, or worse yet, both.

I have found that the most effective trainers and coaches are also incredible communicators – that is to say, they are exceptionally good at using their own voice, their strongest and most vital asset and too, to communicate life-giving truth to their listeners.

Audio and visual communication tools, like the all mighty Microsoft Powerpoint (we like to use Apple’s¬†Keynote, a far more rich and attractive technology), exist to supplement, augment perhaps, but not replace the main communication device: The presenter.

That’s why we spend a lot of time working on our training decks and minimizing their use while increasing the time spent building relationships during our time with the individuals, teams and organizations. We also heavily invest in developing our coaching techniques to provide maximum use of our staff and our trainers instead of bulking up on training decks, slides, and technology.

We’re not interested in hiring or working with parrot presenters – and neither do the businesses and team’s that partner with us want those types of people training their most valuable asset. We find dynamic presenters, trainers, and coaches who’s core craft and toolkit are their communication techniques… and by the way, Action & Influence were voted the Best Training Company in Atlanta for 2013!

But... I do like taking breaks during training :) - Not sure why people take pictures of me doing this though...
But… I do like taking breaks during training ūüôā – Not sure why people take pictures of me doing this though…

Sure, slides and presentations, music and video files are valuable and very useful – but you and I both know (and have experienced) training classes, seminars, keynotes, and lectures that are more about us watching a video for the majority of the session while the trainer and teacher checks their mobile device and email.

Let’s be the best trainers and coaches that we can possibly be and leverage our best resource for our students and those that we train: Ourselves.

How to Build Customer Trust with Blog Content – a 4 Step Process

Ed Hill: In content marketing we’re trying to¬†answer customer questions to help¬†customers meet their needs. Plus if we do a good job with the¬†content¬†customers are gonna share this content¬†with their friends across their social¬†networks. But the problem is creating enough¬†content quickly.

Fifty-one percent of marketers struggle to create enough content for their marketing blogs.

To answer this question we’re talking to¬†Jamie Grimes.¬† Jamie’s worked as a content¬†strategist for¬†marketing websites such as Autotrader.com¬†Apartment guide.com and Healthcare¬†IT Leaders.

Jaime Grimes: So you can use blogs to give longer¬†pieces of information to your customers.¬†Maybe you’re listening¬†through social media and you find¬†that they want a specific topic and If¬†want you to talk about it¬†so you can use blogs to speak to them¬†that way or you can use blogs to tell¬†them about your company information in¬†a¬†way¬†that you know they can relate to.
Continue reading “How to Build Customer Trust with Blog Content – a 4 Step Process”

The Half Arsed Agile Manifesto

Manifesto for Half-Arsed Agile Software Development

We have heard about new ways of developing software by
paying consultants and reading Gartner reports. Through
this we have been told to value:

Individuals and interactions¬†over processes and tools…and we have mandatory processes and tools to control how those¬†individuals (we prefer the term ‚Äėresources‚Äô) interact

Working software¬†over comprehensive documentation…¬†as long as that software is comprehensively documented

Customer collaboration¬†over contract negotiation…¬†within the boundaries of strict contracts, of course, and subject to rigorous change control

Responding to change¬†over following a plan…provided a detailed plan is in place to respond to the change, and it is followed precisely

That is, while the items on the left sound nice
in theory, we’re an enterprise company, and there’s
no way we’re letting go of the items on the right.

Lol!

[HT: Kerry Buckley]

The Challenge of Changing Culture

people-culture-teams-agileA hot topic right now among businesses and organizations is the idea around culture development and the value of culture in the work place, environment, and employee morale.

There’s been a swing of the pendulum, perhaps, where we’re headed back to what made great companies great – incredible cultural dynamics and a rich history of employee satisfaction. Unfortunately we engage with far too many companies that¬†say¬†they have great culture but the employees, if you ask them honestly, will say that it’s really not true – or at least it’s not felt that way.

Most people, both individual contributors and management alike, agree that changing the culture is a “priority” for their organization because they fundamentally believe that a¬†better¬†culture will reveal increased productivity, increased morale, and higher value for the business and their customers.

The challenge is not that you have to sell someone on the value of a changing culture, that is, being closer to a more optimal and functional culture, but¬†how¬†they are actually going to get there. Improving processes, building systems, using newer (and newer) software can help a bit but it’s not a matter of tools or technology or even time: It’s about people.

The challenge of changing culture ultimately is tied to the people that run the business culture – and it’s not just those in the C-Suite, it’s everyone on staff. Continue reading “The Challenge of Changing Culture”

The Challenge of Going First

taking-riskLeadership isn’t about being the smartest person in the room and it’s definitely not about being the most talented either – it’s oftentimes being the person who has decided, for whatever reason, to go first.

And leadership doesn’t have be based on role or position within the pecking order either – you know of someone who doesn’t have the “manager’s” cap but for sure leads the team every single day. Leadership is about taking the initiative, willing to be the first one off the starting block, in the line of fire perhaps, and is an incredible gift since every person after that have been freed of the the incredible burden and responsibility.

This is how most new ideas are introduced to teams and organizations, especially in changing work environment where the boundaries between authority, leadership, and the management layers are slowly being stripped away and being replaced by “linchpins” (a’la¬†Seth Godin). Continue reading “The Challenge of Going First”

2013 Retrospective – Travel Less Next Year

Each color is a different location.
The EPIC travel schedule. Each color is a different location.

This year has been a busy one for sure… and yes, I do manage my schedule using a customized excel sheet.¬†Being able to see the whole, a lean-idea, enables me to see how it all fits together. This year has not only been a busy one, but it’s been great one as well.

Looking back it is quite clear some of the learnings: Travel less. Spend more time at home with the family. 

With my 2014 schedule being booked and some date commitments moving even into QTR4 2014 already, it’s hard, but checking my Delta.com stats, and seeing that I’ve put in 148,854 in-the-seat miles this year… it’s a no brainer.

I hope all of y’all have had a great 2013. Here’s to an even better 2014!

-ps

 

Using Content Marketing to Attract More Customers -Part 2

using-content-marketing-to-attract-customers-2

Producing enough content is a major challenge for 45% of B2C marketers.

In part 1 we cover what content marketing can do for your business and why it works to attract and build trust with customers. Next we’ll cover how to write about topics that customers care about and how to get started with writing your business blog.

There are two main problems in in using content marketing to attract customers:

  • Only 39% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy.
  • Producing enough content is a major challenge for 45% of B2C marketers.

These two problems are closely related so we’re going to look at a light and fast solution to both problems. (This data based on B2C Content Marketing 2014 Report from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.)

Gathering Customer Question Topics for Your Business Blog

We can start to solve the content strategy problem by making a content calendar that addresses topics and keywords that are important to our customers. This is the start of helping customers learn enough that they feel comfortable engaging with your brand and eventually buying from your brand.

Our goal with content marketing is building customer trust and educating our customers about their problem. Customers will have different questions at different stages of the buying cycle. When customers can’t answer their questions they can’t move forward. To help our prospective customers move through the stages of buying, we need to educate them.

Continue reading “Using Content Marketing to Attract More Customers -Part 2”

Keeping the Startup Mentality and Energy Alive

Startup-quote Agile Scout

One of the most satisfying opportunities that I have is the ability to work with startups and their limited resources. But what they might lack in finances, manpower, human capital, and even, at times, a plan they completely make up with energy, passion, and a belief that they can really make a difference and change the world.

They’re hungry and it’s entirely infectious – it’s the reason that I love to work with them constantly as well as working in my own environment of startups. The challenge is that most organizations quickly move out of their startup mentality and into their more “mature” phase and periods of growth. The large enterprises struggle with this even more and it’s a constant internal discussion that always revolves around this question:

Why aren’t we (can’t we) have that startup mentality that keeps us motivated and passionate?

The issue isn’t with the core philosophy of the business – it’s not even about the products, the services, or the core offerings and oftentimes it’s not even about the leadership. Sure, it can be all of those things and at times a combination of them are contributing to the sluggish mobility of the organization but the answer lies in the context of the team(s). Continue reading “Keeping the Startup Mentality and Energy Alive”

Certified ScrumMaster Course in the Netherlands, Den Haag + Go to Agile Testing Days!

peter-saddington-christmas
1 Week before Early Bird Price Ends! – LoL

Get the most from your trip to The Hague (Den Haag) and¬†sign up¬†for this exclusive opportunity to learn from an experienced Scrum Trainer and Consultant ‚Äď Peter Saddington!

¬Ľ Learn more about Peter Saddington

Become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) in this hands-on training, full of scenarios, simulations and practical exercises.

Seating is limited, so sign up today!

Find more about Agile Testing Days Netherlands here! 

 

You are a Software Gardener

Agile Developer?
Agile Developer?

You are a Software Gardener.

Do you try to plan your gardens in such detail that you know where each leaf will be positioned before you plant a single seed? Do people expect estimates (or are they promises in your organisation?) on exactly how many flowers will have bloomed in one years time? Do you have a bonus tied to that? Things that would be perfectly reasonable to plan for a skyscraper seem a little ridiculous when you are talking about a garden.

You probably have a good idea of what your garden should look like a week into the future. You might even have a rough idea of the shape you expect it to be in a year from now. But you have no idea of where each branch, leaf, stem and flower will be a year from now, and if you say you do then you’re really only guessing.

If you were building a bridge or a skyscraper and you told me, before you began, that you knew exactly how it would look when it was finished ‚Äď I would believe you. If you told me that you knew to some insane degree of accuracy how long it would take to get to ‚Äėfinished‚Äô ‚Äď I would believe you again. That‚Äôs how Engineers roll. Tell me the same thing about your garden and I‚Äôm gonna call bullshit. Tell me you are going to make it grow faster by hiring more gardeners and I‚Äôm gonna laugh at you.

Excerpt from Chris Aitchison.

The full read is in the link. I know this is an old post, but it’s worth reviewing.

[HT: Chris Aitchison]

Or... Agile Developer...
Or… Agile Developer…

Action & Influence of Atlanta, GA voted Best Training Company!

Train with the best Atlanta has to offer!
Train with the best Atlanta has to offer!

Super excited to announce that Action & Influence was voted Best Training Company in Atlanta, GA for 2013!

Not exactly sure how this happened, but we’re honored anyway ūüôā

I definitely believe we work with the best trainers and coaches in the world. The reason behind our success is our conglomerate effort to help the world at work. To help companies reach the performance levels they desire, and to improve the lives of corporate citizens!

Here’s to a great 2014!

GE uses #LeanStartup – Makes Fridge

Eyes rolled and groans were muttered last night at the closing session of the first day of Eric Ries‚Äô¬†Lean Startup Conference. For the Monday finale, Ries brought four employees and executives from General Electric ‚ÄĒ yes, the giant bureaucratic corporation that makes your dishwashers and air conditioners ‚ÄĒ to talk about the company‚Äôs innovative endeavors.

Needless to say, entrepreneurs in the audience were skeptical. After all, many had joined the startup community to escape the death grip of corporate bureaucracy. What could General Electric, a 276.85b market cap company with approximately 305,000 employees in 106 countries globally, possibly teach the audience about startups?

The answer was ‚Äúnot much.‚ÄĚ At least at the moment.

ge-lean-startup-fridge
The Lean Startup Fridge

General Electric¬†says¬†it has 100 products in the pipeline that have been created and tested using¬†Eric Ries‚Äė popular¬†Lean Startup method. But only one is ready to go into production right now, hitting 10 stores next week…

Stop the presses because, shocker: it’s a fridge. An all-metal fridge with no plastic on the inside, which apparently is super innovative and a bonkers experiment for the fridge industry.

#lol

Read the full story here.

Bullsh*t Bingo – Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

safe-scaled-agile-framework-bullshit-bingo
I won!

Before each daily scrum, visit Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Bingo and print one copy of this game card for each player,refreshing the page before each print, or have the players print their own bingo cards. These instructions will not be printed. You can also select an embeddable card only version of the game or a multiple card version of the game when playing on line, or with a smart phone.

Check off each block when you hear these words during the daily scrum. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout “Woo Woo!!“. Or play as a drinking game and for every block you mark off, take a sip, and finish your drink each time you get five blocks in a row.

This seriously gave me the LOLs!!!!!!!!!!

Find more Bullshit bingo cards here.

Action & Influence, Inc. Receives 2013 Best of Atlanta Award

Atlanta Award Program Honors the Achievement

ATLANTA December 3, 2013 — Action & Influence, Inc. has been selected for the 2013 Best of Atlanta Award in the Computer Training School category by the Atlanta Award Program.

Each year, the Atlanta Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Atlanta area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Atlanta Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Atlanta Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Atlanta Award Program

The Atlanta Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Atlanta area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Atlanta Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Atlanta Award Program
FIND CLASSES IN ATLANTA: Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner Courses

CONTACT:
Atlanta Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@awardredemption.org

Donate to Wikipedia – Keep Information Free!

[Donate Here]

Dear Peter,

You are so fantastic. THANK YOU for supporting the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that runs Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Your donation covers not only your own costs of using Wikipedia, but also the costs of other Wikipedia readers.

Like the retired farmer in upstate New York who’s using Wikipedia to study the science of sludge, and the student in Kuala Lumpur who’s researching organic chemistry. The British mechanic who, after he broke his back in an accident, used Wikipedia to retrain himself as a web developer. The civil servant in Finland who set up an offline version of Wikipedia for a small school in Ghana. And the father in Mexico City who takes his little daughters to the museum on weekends, and uses Wikipedia to help them understand everything they’re seeing there.

Wikipedia’s job is to bring the sum total of all human knowledge to everyone around the world in their own language. That’s a pretty audacious mission, but with 30 million articles and 287 languages, I’d say that thanks to you and people like you, we are getting there.

On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the half-a-billion other Wikipedia readers around the world: thank you. The fact that you are helping to pay the costs of running Wikipedia means it can stay ad-free and independent of bias, focused solely on helping its readers. Exactly as it should be.

You may have noticed that for the first time this year we’ve tweaked our fundraising so that most people will only see the banners a handful of times, instead of for weeks. That’s deliberate: we don’t want people to get irritated by too many appeals. But it does mean that fewer people will figure out we’re a non-profit, and that we want their help. So if you’re willing, I’d appreciate if you’d help spread the word by forwarding this e-mail to a few of your friends.

And I’d love if you’d try joining us in helping to write Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s written entirely by volunteers — tens of thousands of ordinary people around the world, exactly like us. If you see a typo or a small mistake on Wikipedia, please fix it. If you know anything worth adding, please add it. Some people find it remarkably satisfying, and maybe you will too.

Thank you again. I very much appreciate your trust in us, and I promise you: we will use your money carefully and well.

Thanks,
Sue

Sue Gardner
Executive Director,
Wikimedia Foundation
donate.wikimedia.org

Why Knowing Yourself Matters to You, and Your (Future) Employer

agile-coach-mentor-characteristics
Valuable Career Coaching, Mentoring, and Knowing Thyself

One of the things that I’m immensely passionate about is career coaching – I’ve been doing this for years and have been using tools like Team Science‚ĄĘ¬†to help others navigate the murky waters of one’s personality and the “right” job fit. It’s an incredibly satisfying role that I play and the results can be incredible.

What’s discouraging and unfortunate is that most people never take the time to invest in their own “knowing” of themselves – they spend more time working on their skill sets or with their tools so as to boost their own marketability in the demanding and competitive landscape of the job market. There’s nothing wrong with becoming the best at Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, or MySQL database management unless those things really aren’t what you’re better and more naturally equipped to do. Continue reading “Why Knowing Yourself Matters to You, and Your (Future) Employer”

Agile Testing Days Netherlands – February 13, 2014

peter-saddington-agile-testing-day-netherlands-den-haag

Agile Testing Days 2014 in Den Haag, Netherlands is coming up, and I’ve been blessed enough to be part of the team of speakers.

The guys who put together these conferences are top notch. This will be my 4th event with them!

I love presenting to the people here in Europe. Awesome people. Lots to learn. What a great “job” we have!

Hope to see you there!

-ps

Using Content Marketing to Attract More Customers-Part 1

agile-social-media-build-traffic-content-trust

[As some of you know, we like to promote good ideas for other bloggers out there that are in the Agile space. We haven’t heard from Ed Hill, our resident SEO expert in a while. Good to see some stuff that is useful for Agile Bloggers!]

Content marketing is the development and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage consumers.

Content Marketing Builds Trust with Customers
Content Marketing Builds Trust with Customers

If you’re marketing your small to medium business, you’ve seen the frenzy over content marketing. Why is content marketing getting so much attention? Why is content so effective at building traffic and sales leads?

We’re going to quickly cover:

  • What content marketing can do for your business
  • Why it works to attract customers to your online business
  • What to write about
  • How to get started

Just in the last week I’ve seen several articles on major media sites like Search Engine World, Forbes and the Huffington Post. You can skip the Huffington opinion piece, which claims, “There is no formula”, while checking out Drew Hendricks coverage of useful content building tools in Tips For Building A Strong Content Marketing Plan For 2014¬†.¬†While there is no formula for quality content marketing, there is a process that you can use for your content marketing.¬†

Because you’re focused on marketing a small or medium business, you may not have a large enough team or the time for the formal content strategy process. But you don’t want to start without planning. You can’t build traffic by randomly posting social media snippets and blog articles on topics that don’t matter to your customers. There is a happy balance between the two extremes. We’re going to walk through a quick and effective process that mixes some practices from content strategy and methods from search engine optimization. The goal here is to quickly deliver content that matters to your customer and helps fulfill your goals as a business.

Content creation is a powerful and effective marketing strategy to build web traffic and sales leads, but it’s also expensive in terms of time and effort.¬†

What Content Marketing Delivers for Your Business

  • Relevant content is ideal for building customer rapport and trust
  • Consistent content creation helps to form a relationship where customers learn how to solve their problems and come to rely on your business for trustworthy information
  • Reassuring content such as testimonials and reviews helps customers lose their fear of loss, which is a natural part of the buying cycle
  • Because content marketing seeks to answer customer questions and doubts it’s appropriate at almost every stage of the buying cycle
  • Content marketing is also a rich source of relevant content that search engines will favor with higher search engine visibility and increased natural search traffic
  • Building carefully crafted headlines for your content will also deliver social media content that is easy for readers to share

How Much Content Should We Build to See Improvement in Web Traffic and Sales

  • My experience with content building shows that 100 to 300 pages of new blog or website content is needed to see a substantial increase in web traffic and sales leads
  • Building 51 to 100 pages of content can generate 48% more traffic than web sites with less than 50 pages, according to the¬†Hubspot Marketing Benchmarks from 7000 Businesses

When practiced consistently, I’ve seen content marketing deliver substantial increase in web traffic and sales. With an efficient team posting content on a daily basis and building and responding to your community of customers through social media, you could see traffic almost double as I did with my work for ApartmentGuide.com.

Why Does Content Marketing Work so Well?

When customers are seeking a solution to a problem or a product to fulfill a need they will typically gather information before buying anything that costs more than $100. The customer wants to strike a balance between the need to solve their problem and the fear of loss. The fear of loss occurs because the customer often does not know enough about what type of products can solve their problem or even how to find the best product to solve their problem. Especially when buying something they’ve never purchased before or when spending a large amount of money, the customer begins to fear that they will buy the wrong product, pay too much for the product or even buy a product that fails to solve their problem.

Content marketing eliminates the customers fear of loss by giving them enough information to understand:

  • what types of products are available to solve their problem
  • how to judge if a product is suitable for what they need
  • how to compare competing products
  • how to judge if the price is fair for the value offered
  • how to use the product to solve their problem
  • social proof content like reviews or testimonials can be especially reassuring to customers

In part 2 we’ll talk about how to research the types of content that matter to your customers and then how to start the content marketing process.

Leadership is Stewardship

northpoint-be-rich-campaignOne of my personal living heros is¬†Andy Stanley, the pastor of¬†North Point Community Church¬†who I’ve heard speak about leadership and stewardship many times.

One of my most favorite quotes of his in regard to this idea is the following:

Leadership is stewardship, it’s temporary and you’re accountable.

I love this dynamic because it brings to light two valuable points that we all must take notice of, especially if you are in fact in positions of leadership.

The first point is that it’s very temporary – no one lasts forever as a leader within their organization and role. Things change, times change, and very quickly organizations need to drop the old and bring in the new. Oftentimes this means bringing in younger talent to replace and continue to build the momentum of the business.

Sometimes this truth can be very difficult for some to fully grasp and admit – that there will be a time when they will have to give up their role as a leader, their title, and their position for fresher and more able hands. Many of us, unfortunately, have experienced this in the context of bad leadership and a leader who refused to give up their seat at the top because of their ego, pride, and selfishness. The fallout, naturally, was just as negative.

The second point is closely tied to the first and is just as overlooked as the first as well. The idea is that you’re simply responsible for the time you have as a leader and that your actions and leadership will direct the course of the business and many people’s lives – that’s a big responsibility and burden!

It’s a good burden to bear but it’s not one that all leaders are aware of and/or cognizant of enough – that their actions, words, and thought-patterns¬†really¬†do matter and that it is in their best interest to consider their time in leadership of the utmost importance. Combine this with the fact that it’s temporary and it means that you really don’t have much time to lose – you¬†must¬†create significant impact while you are there or your time will appear, historically, as just another blip on the radar and you’ll be forgotten as just another guy who sat at the end of the table for a time.

No one wants to be remembered that way – we all must make the necessary and right decisions to lead our teams and organizations well, create the value that they need to be highly productive, and give them the tools to make that happen.

Leadership is less about telling others what to do (in fact it’s rarely that at all) and more about giving them the right and privilege to speak into their own roles and responsibilities with freedom and joy. Out of this enjoyment comes extreme productivity and value.

Healthcare.gov – A Great Example of Failing… without Agile

mckinsey-review-healthcare.gov

This is a story of contrast between two popular methods of software development. One is called “waterfall,” the other, “agile.”

Waterfall development favors listing a huge set of requirements for a system up front, letting developers go away for months (if not longer) and expecting a huge software product in the end.

The agile method does the opposite, favoring work done in phases, delivering “minimum shippable” parts of a software system in weekly or biweekly cycles. This allows for iterating ‚ÄĒ or adjusting to hiccups discovered in the previous cycle, changing features or quashing bugs quickly and avoiding getting an end product that doesn’t look a thing like what your users need.

Like many government projects, HealthCare.gov was developed under the waterfall approach ‚ÄĒ and to its near doom.

The key findings in the presentation found here come on Page 5. Even though it was written in March, the slide sums up most of the key problems we eventually saw with the rollout of HealthCare.gov last month: limited testing time, evolving requirements, over-reliance on contractors and “stacking” of all the phases of development. The really damaging decision, according to the consultants: launching “at scale.”

Find the full story here, and the slides here.

[HT: NPR]

Dysfunctional Retrospective via Chat

All names changed to protect the… … innocent… [WARNING – LANGUAGE]

(10/11/2013 16:15:58) xxx: that was pretty much going to be my argument
(10/11/2013 16:16:24) xxx: let go of the old sh*t. Join the group doing scrum over here you cranky tw*t
(10/11/2013 16:16:31) bbb: I don’t have nice things to say about DDD.
(10/11/2013 16:16:43) aaa: really??
(10/11/2013 16:16:44) xxx: this is my first run in with him
(10/11/2013 16:16:47) bbb: he’s the 4-letter word GGG banned me from saying.
(10/11/2013 16:16:52) aaa: hadn’t noticed haha
(10/11/2013 16:17:06) aaa: hahaha he brings out the best in everyone it seems!
(10/11/2013 16:18:09) xxx: and maybe if he would just do the cases he needed to work on he wouldn’t feel quite as rushed
(10/11/2013 16:18:27) xxx: instead of grabbing sh*t from our queue
(10/11/2013 16:19:09) bbb: HHH is as useful as EEE.
(10/11/2013 16:19:29) aaa: who are both as useful as GGG
(10/11/2013 16:20:16) bbb: haha yeah
(10/15/2013 09:07:12) ccc: Well this is a clusterf*ck.

===

Yes, while I understand that sometimes teams need to be dispersed and all over the world… when (as a consultant), I’m privy to the dysfunctions of a current system… well… things need to be changed.

The saddest part about seeing this conversation happen is the fact that:

  1. These engineers are top notch
  2. They are great at what they do
  3. They have been put in positions where they can’t affect change
  4. They have been disenfranchised for a long time… some are near apathy

Dear Management,

Don’t do this.

-kthxbye