7 Billion People in the World

According to the United Nations, we passed the 7 Billion person mark on Halloween morning, 2011.

A world of 7 billion poses many challenges: in fighting poverty and disease, in securing education and sustainable livelihoods and in mitigating climate change. But this milestone for humanity can also be seen as an opportunity to renew our commitment to work individually and together for a better world. – United Nations Day

So what now?

Are Project Managers Living A Lie?

[A Scary Halloween Article]

“I am going to describe my personal views about managing large software developments… In these assignments I have experienced different degrees of success with respect to arriving at an operational state, on-time, and within costs. I have become prejudiced by my experiences and I am going to relate some of these prejudices in this presentation.” – Dr. Winston Royce, 1970 Managing the Development of Large Software Systems

I had a fun 20 minute talk with a VP of Development and a Sr. Program Manager at a DoD facility during my time at AgileDC 2011 this year. The topic was around Project Managers managing projects in a way that is already poised for failure. Are they living a lie?

It has always been eye-opening to many people when I tell my workshop participants or clients that they old waterfall way of doing software was never intended to be used. It was a misinterpretation of Dr. Royce’s seminal paper. What happened was that government agencies read the first page, saw a diagram (with a poorly chosen caption), and said: “Hey, that’s how we do software development!”

Yes, that’s right. Waterfall project management was never the point. It was actually iterative development that Dr. Winston Royce was pointing to… later in his paper. 

How Not To Manage Large Software Projects:

If they had read the second page of Dr. Royce’s paper, they would have found the following quotes:

“I believe in this concept, but the implementation described above is risky and invites failure.”

“Yet if these phenomena fail to satisfy the various external constraints, then invariably a major redesign is required.”

“The required design changes are likely to be so disruptive that the software requirements upon which the design is based and which provides the rationale for everything are violated. Either the requirements must be modified, or a substantial change in the design is required. In effect the development process has returned to the origin and one can expect up to a 100-percent overrun in schedule and/or costs.”

Interestingly enough, Manoj Vadakkan spoke about Dr. Winston Royce’s findings this during his AgileDC talk as well, but he wasn’t harsh on Project Managers.

One quote during my conversation that almost flattened me was the following:

“You know, Project Managers should wake up and see that their entire existence is based on a lie. Their work, their management style, and their careers, are built upon a fallacy, a lie, and a management construct that should have never been put out there in the first place. It’s like a cult with millions of followers who, the more they learn about project management theory, are going deeper into failure for themselves and their company.” [Paraphrased by me]

So, what you’re saying is that Project Managers… and project management is like… a cult…


What do you think? I hardly had words.

Continue reading “Are Project Managers Living A Lie?”

Retrospective 56 – #CTO #Blog and #SEO #Giveaway


Developing Cultures of Complexity – CTOBlog.com

This year I have spoken at many conferences and the focus for me this year… and probably many years to come have been around the “Culture of IT.”

In many of my workshops I often ask my participants a simple question:

Raise your hand if you think software development in your business is easy?

Most often, not a single hand raises. I follow up with a second question and elicit some feedback from the group:

What are the biggest struggles or hurdles to success in building your products or software?

The majority of responses I get back are not technology-related. They are human-related: Soft-skills. Culture issues. People problems.

Technology Doesn’t Build Software, People Do

W. Edwards Deming, renowned systems thinker (whom I leverage a lot) noted that workers are responsible for 10 to 20 percent of the quality problems in a factory, and that theremaining 80 to 90 percent is under management’s control.

Workers are responsible for communicating to management the information they possess regarding the system. Deming’s approach to quality and productivity management requires an organization-wide cultural transformation.

Right. As I consult with C-Level executives, this is exactly the point that needs to be made. After that, it’s simply a matter of how to change culture within a business.

Curious? You should be. We’ll explore more of that in due time.

Kanban Applied to Scrum

I enjoyed this short and concise video on Kanban.

Kanban is a lean Agile methodology.

Kanban is a visual queue of work and helps with, as BTI360 states, the issues around unclear development steps, task switching, and partially done work.

  • Kanban helps with unclear development steps in that Kanban helps the team visualize flow of work and high level transparency to involved stakeholders.
  • Kanban helps with constant task switching in that Kanban helps by placing work-in-progress limits so that team members can focus on completion of work or value.
  • Kanban helps with partially done work in that Kanban helps by delivering fully complete work 100%.
Highly visible flow helps team address bottlenecks and on-demand improvement. Adjustments are made as they surface.

VersionOne Loves Agile Coaches

I got 2 XL Shirts... what are they trying to say?...

VersionOne Hearts Their Agile Parter Coaches

Want to know how to support your Agile community thought leaders and Agile Coaches?

Give them free swag.

I have spent a solid amount of time with the VersionOne crew and have come to love the way that they support the Agile community. Not only are they are a big presence at meetups, conferences, and gatherings, but they are totally all about helping others.

It’s a Cultural Thing

VersionOne has a unique culture. A culture where awesome people create awesome products and services. But it all starts with the people. Yes, they sell a product too, but get in a conversation with them. They’ll speak more about growing the community, helping others, and the fun aspect of work than talk about their tool.

So far I’ve received 4 care packages over the course of the last year or so, all jam packed with awesome swag for me, an Agile Coach, to give away to my clients, friends, and readers.

What is VersionOne doing for me? They are helping me be more effective in my work. Period.

Thanks VersionOne!

Check out their:

Giveaway – Social Media Marketing Book!

[This is part of 2011 Monthly Book Giveaways with AgileScout!]

This month’s giveaway is The Social Media Marketing Book. This book has helped AgileScout become one of the #1 resources for Agile Software Development News!

David J. Perdue’s review on it from Amazon.com:

In the increasingly complex world of social media, how do you begin to successfully engage in social media marketing for your business? Dan Zarrella has responded to that question with “The Social Media Marketing Book.” It’s a quick read. But the small book is packed with useful information for those itching to jump into the social media marketing fray.

The book’s organization is quite user-friendly and begins with a brief introduction to social media. The bulk of the book then focuses on presenting a concise history, definition, and description of the various types of social media: blogging, Twitter/microblogging, social networking, media sharing, social news and bookmarking, ratings and reviews, forums, and virtual worlds. I found each section both helpful and interesting, especially appreciating the author’s conciseness.

Overall, I found Zarrella’s guide a helpful resource on understanding and applying social media for business. Note that the book is an introductory guide, so don’t expect to find profound social media strategies if you’re already an experienced social media marketer. Nevertheless, I appreciated the nuggets of wisdom throughout this survey of social media marketing.

How to Enter:

  1. Comment on this post
  2. Tweet this post

Simple. Jump on it! Contest entry closes (for this month) on Oct 31, 11:59PM.

Boom goes the dynamite.

See Our Past Giveaways:

Help us give away more awesome free stuff to our community and readers! [Become a Sponsor]

PMI-ACP Exam Tips

Actually... Don't Click Me.

We at AgileScout received a cool email about tips from someone who recently took the PMI-ACP Exam, see the details below!

[See my experience with the PMI-ACP here]

“I took the PMI-ACP certification examination on 6th October in Chicago.”
My overall experience of taking this exam is as follows:

  1. Time: The 3 hours to answer 120 questions were sufficient. I finished answering all questions in 2 hours. There were 4-5 questions which were not very clear and another 10-12 questions I marked for “review” later. I used my extra time to review those Marked questions to guess best answer PMI may be expecting.
  2. Agile Practices: There were multiple questions on SCRUM and XP, very few questions on Kanban and Lean, almost none on Crystal, FDD, and DSDM.
  3. Roles: Fully Understand the Roles in SCRUM and XP, what are the responsibilities carried by those roles, various meetings, input and outcome of those meetings like review, retrospective etc,
  4. Scenario Based Questions: There were multiple questions based on scenarios and how best will you apply Agile practices under those scenarios.
  5. Understand the difference between terms of coordination, collaboration and communication. Multiple questions on team Collaboration.
  6. Surprise questions on Agile Portfolio Management.
  7. Multiple questions on Agile Risk Management.
  8. Multiple questions on Story Points, Burn-down Charts and Velocity calculations.

Overall PMI ACP certification exam is challenging and tests the knowledge of Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles, Agile Practices, and Agile Methodologies very well. If you read the PMI suggested material, PMI suggested books, I am sure you will PASS the certification examination with flying colors!!

[Thanks Vivek!]

*It has come to our attention that this was forwarded from someone who had received an email update from William Fumey of AgileExams.com. Sorry for the repost!

Wrapping Up on the Feng Shui for Establishing a Culture of Innovation

[Guest Post: Paul Boos serves as the software maintenance lead for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP).  His team currently uses Kanban and Scrum to maintain the OPP legacy code base.  Prior to that he implemented Scrum as the Branch Chief for the National Development Branch within USDA/Rural Development. Follow him on twitter: @paul_boos]

This will be the conclusion of the posts on creating a culture of innovation.  While this has had some focus on applying it within the Government, the concepts are pretty general in nature.  There are characteristics to cultivate in your people, values to encourage within your teams, traits to develop in your organization, and two forms of innovation you need to be prepared to accept: Kaizen and Kaikaku.  In this segment, we’ll discuss mostly how to make the resulting innovations get merged into the organization smoothly.

Organizational Vision

To bring all of the innovations into a cohesive direction that will help and not distract the organization, one must instill a vision for that organization. This vision should be aligned to your organization’s mission.  Without this vision, innovations will vary in the direction and may go at cross-purposes.  Business author Matthew May calls this the “Goldilocks Principle”; the vision is the definition of the problem or purpose in specific but not too detailed terms.

Here’s an example: suppose you are interested in encouraging use of a new battery technology that is long-life and very powerful.  You plan to develop a grant program to develop its application.  Because of size and weight only large items could utilize this battery; anything from an 18 wheeled freight truck and bigger is required.  You could define the issue to focus replacing truck fuel usage with battery powered motors.  Such a tight definition will constrain the innovation proposals you get for the grant.  If you defined that you wanted proposals to explore using this technology in the transportation sector you could get much more innovative proposals back.

Ancient Markets? Continue reading “Wrapping Up on the Feng Shui for Establishing a Culture of Innovation”

[Tool Review] – SifterApp – Simple Bug Tracking


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

It is really hard to find bug tracking tools that are easy to use. It almost seems like an oxymoron to say the words “simple” and “bug tracking” in the same sentence. Any quality assurance person will tell you that QA isn’t easy… unless the environment is set up to make it easy. Maybe all you need is a kick-ass tool…

[Enter]: SifterAppSimple and Friendly Bug Tracking Tool

No Superlatives. Just Software

SifterApp isn’t “bug tracking done right”, “better bug tracking”, or even “bug tracking evolved.” It’s just a simple and friendly hosted bug tracking tool designed for small teams.

Not only that. It’s pretty to look at as well. 

Quickly get an overview of all projects and dive in for a deeper look with the Project Dashboard view:

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – SifterApp – Simple Bug Tracking”

Preparing an Organization to be Innovative – Agile Feng Shui

[Guest Post: Paul Boos serves as the software maintenance lead for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP).  His team currently uses Kanban and Scrum to maintain the OPP legacy code base.  Prior to that he implemented Scrum as the Branch Chief for the National Development Branch within USDA/Rural Development. Follow him on twitter: @paul_boos]

So far in the “Feng Shui” series, we have explored the persona charactieristics we want to instill in our people and the values we want in our teams.  The goal though is to cultivate an organizational culture for innovation.  Innovation can happen at the team level (and usually does), but it won’t be sustainable without support for the organization.  In this post, we’ll discuss how organizations can ensure that this sustainable innovation can exist.  We’ll start with…

3 Traits of an Innovative Organization

Once we realize that innovation is about unlocking the power of the teams and the individuals on them to think and act creatively, we need to further cultivate traits within the organization to help foster the sustainability.  Organization in this sense is somewhat a synonym for both the structure of the organization and the management culture that pervades it.


The first trait is one that directly helps teams; Servant Leadership.  Teams will undoubtedly come across issues that are bigger than themselves.  These issues will then get elevated up and outside of the team and it will be up to that management to resolve them; either by assisting the team in some manner or handling it for them.  Management must take on the ownership of handling the issue and become servants to the team.  This allows team growth in capacity and builds loyalty.

Management must also develop a culture of ownership for ideas; this is done by increasing the authority and responsibility of individuals and teams within the organization.  All organizations will intrinsically set boundaries on what an individual or team can or cannot do, but for innovation to flourish, it is increasingly important to push decision-making to the level responsible for needed action.  This will inspire teams to experiment, finding out what works or doesn’t work.  The connection to innovation should be relatively obvious; if ownership of an idea and the decisions around it are taken away, then people won’t bother to innovate.

Management also needs to develop mechanisms to increase collaboration between various disciplines.  Continue reading “Preparing an Organization to be Innovative – Agile Feng Shui”

Iterating on Scrum to Improve Velocity & Overall Efficiency of Your Scrum Team

[Guest Post: Sean McHugh is one of the ScrumMasters at Axosoft, a software company that make OnTime (industry leading Scrum software). He gets to work with customers who are brand new to Scrum and also with experienced customers who are beginning to implement a scrum project management software solution for their development teams. He loves working with teams from around the world, who each have their own unique challenges and solutions. He shares his thoughts and experiences with the Scrum community via his Scrum blog.]

Iterating is Core to Success

An iteration has long been the thumping heartbeat of most products that are made. This isn’t even unique to software products, almost all products iterate and improve over time, and it’s why we have cars with more efficient and powerful engines nowadays. It’s the reason why my television is thinner and lighter than the one I grew up with.

Iterations are also the core of what makes Scrum work and people sometimes miss the nuance of me saying this. I didn’t say that iterations are the core of what makes the product work; they are the core of Scrum.

Let me explain what I mean:

When you complete a sprint (the aforementioned iteration) you should typically demonstrate it to the Product Owner but also take some time to retrospect on the sprint itself. The retrospective on the sprint has little or nothing to do with the product and instead centers around the team. Continue reading “Iterating on Scrum to Improve Velocity & Overall Efficiency of Your Scrum Team”

[Tool Review] – Trello – Uber Simple Collaboration and Task Management Tool

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

As more and more tools are being released to help people personally or in software development, I’m finding that some of the most fun tools to use are those that are not only simple, but aesthetically pleasing to use as well – Having JUST the right amount of neat features that don’t get in the way.

[Enter]: TrelloUBER Simple Collaboration and Task Management

After you sign up, jump right on in. The first board you’ll see is a walk-through board. Every single task on the board tells you some of the things you can do with Trello. I found this feature to be really helpful. No need to click through another walk-through of all the features. They are all right there!

And that’s pretty much all you need to know:

Click for full size
Click for full size

Summary? Well you have 3 things… Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Trello – Uber Simple Collaboration and Task Management Tool”

Retrospective 53 – #Agile Tool Reviews and #Giveaway #Contest


[Tool Review] – RedCritterTracker – Agile Tool Gamification

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

Somehow I knew this was coming. An Agile tool company starting to think like a game. We’ve talked about “gamification” before:


So it has happened: Winning badges for completing tasks and working as a team. Hey, you can even trade in “points” for rewards set by your management. Who knew that working could earn you LOOT?

[Enter]: RedCritter TrackerBusiness Gamification kinda like Pivotal Tracker

By the way…

Get 15% off when you use the INVITATION CODE: “AGILESCOUT”

So, let’s jump right in: Continue reading “[Tool Review] – RedCritterTracker – Agile Tool Gamification”

[Tool Review] – KanbanPad – Kanban For Free!

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

There are some really great kanban tools out there. Some you pay for, some are free. People say that “you get what you pay for…” Most of the time, this is very true. Sometimes… you might just be surprised at what you can get for free.

[Enter]: KanbanPadAbsolutely free kanban tool, lightweight and simple

To get started, just enter your email address into the field and get to it. You’ll be greeted with a simple interface:

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – KanbanPad – Kanban For Free!”

Podio Mobile – Make Your Own Apps

What if everyone could build their own mobile work apps to get their work done in a collaborative way?

With Podio’s iPhone app release this is now possible. We’ve been following Podio pretty closely, and so far, we’ve been very impressed.

When Podio launched back in March, the BBC called Podio a citizen developers movement. Since then our users have built or modified more than 200,000 work apps (see some of them here). In fact anyone can build an app on Podio, without technical skills. With today’s iPhone app release Podio users can put all of those work apps on their iPhones:

Want to become part of the movement to change the way people work? Podio might just be something for you to check out.

See our [Tool Review] on Podio here.

Open Source Awards 2011 – Giveaway!

Packt and AgileScout are teaming up to give you some #epic loot.

We here at AgileScout have already committed to giving away 1 FREE book each month in 2011… but now we’re giving away EVEN MORE!

The 6th annual OS Awards, running successfully ever since 2006 is widely recognized and credited for in the Open Source fraternity globally. And, this year Packt is bringing in more categories to our awards.  More information can be found here: 2011 Open Source Awards. The voting stage for this has already started for select nominees.

Since AgileScout is dedicated to giving away massive free loot, Packt decided to help us give more.


*UK and US only for Hardback… eBook for anywhere else*

Yup. So how do you enter? 


  1. Go [here] and vote on some of the categories – OH, and you can win a KINDLE for voting too (double #win)
  2. Comment on this post and let us know which book you would want to get from Packt for FREE – Click [here] for the complete database of books.
  3. Tweet this blog post out to your friends.

3 ways to win. What are you waiting for?

Retrospective 52 – Art of #Agile and Developer Mythbusters

Three Virtual Sticky Note Options: