Speedy Doesn’t Have to Mean Sloppy – Agile Marketing

MIT's Solar Car

The need for marketing speed is obvious and not just because customers are global and they buy 24/7/365. Factor in market segment fragmentation – how many ways there are to reach customers (channels, multiple devices) and don’t forget the usual product tweaks/frequent updates, along with new world-market dynamics. Speed? no kidding.

How’s a marketing professional supposed to meet the customer/prospects’ expectations of first-rate, quality, relevant and dynamic product messaging in this will-o-wisp environment?

Try a little Agile with your marketing.

  • Forget “big batch” Market Plans for the year and instead chunk the campaign or market planning into small marketing projects. OK, you really can’t do this YET!   So >>> start by limiting the number of pages in the plan. Fill in the details the further along you go. Now you get the picture!
  • Define the success measurements – decide upfront how you’ll know if the campaign, new web page or video you posted is meeting/exceeding expectations. Use tools like Google AdWords or ROI calculators to do this and do this often.  Be flexible, adjust or fix as necessary, maybe even “can” the project. The sooner you know the results, the better you can allocate your scare resources (people, time, money) to the best performing projects. Congratulations, you now have results based marketing.
  • Failure is an option – learn from it…
…just don’t fail the same way twice. – Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO Mindjet


Agile Scrum Tools – A Tool that Helps Teams Grow?

Andrea Keeble of VersionOne recently asked me a couple of pretty good questions about Agile maturity for teams.

  1. When is it time to move beyond spreadsheets, whiteboards and sticky notes?
  2. Pros & cons of free agile tools (versus high-end ones)?
  3. Is there a need for something in between, which extends visibility beyond the dev team and can easily scale as you grow?

When doing training or client work, I’m also often asked these same types of questions. Most often it revolves around:

“When can we move to a tool? What’s the best tool? Etc etc…”

Let’s discuss a couple of these, shall we?

When to go to an Agile Scrum tool?

I still believe with all my heart that wallboards are king for Agile. Plain and simple. But… as teams scale and departments need better tracking and transparency, tools have their place.

Simply put, the best time to move to a tool is when the following happens:

  1. Communication/reporting is needed to teams and management beyond local teams (geographically disperse)
  2. Dependencies/constraints are part of the environment (dev ops tools are good here too)
  3. When pretty reports mean a ton to management and stakeholders (seriously, sometimes this is a critical piece. If you have beautiful looking reports generated by a system… it totally beats making your own crappy powerpoint deck)
  4. When a team is mature enough to streamline it’s processes and using a tool is more expedient (and valuable) than a physical wallboard
  5. When a team is mature enough that a team is more efficient utilizing a high-performance enterprise tool (but does NOT replace collaboration) Continue reading “Agile Scrum Tools – A Tool that Helps Teams Grow?”

Essence of the Main Thing

The main thing

is keeping the main thing

the main thing

A product launch begins when *everyone* involved can say what truly makes your product outstanding and awesome.

No, that’s not a typo.

I didn’t mean “product launch ends” – because if you begin developing product without clarity on this, no telling when you’ll launch.  Or what will launch.  Or who you should be launching to…


Office Space Shrinking… Good for Agility?

In my monthly magazine subscription to INC. this April’s edition had some interesting reads. One of which stated that based on Sphere Trending from Inforum, it looks like office space is getting smaller and smaller as the years progress.

This could be one of many reasons:

  • We’re going back to factory-style work values (i.e. we’re just cogs)
  • A loss of value of personal space…
  • Management value is diminishing…
  • Real estate costs and corporate budgets for offices…
  • Or… that working closely together in an agile-like fashion is vogue…

Probably it’s none of the above! — We’ve written a lot about open offices and office space before below:

What do you think?

Retrospective 86 – Agile Publishing and Agile 2012 Speaking

How to Use Analytics and Blog Search Tools to Choose Blog Writing Topics

To be a successful blogger and attract more traffic to your blog, you must write about things that are interesting to your readers and that are worthy of being shared.  How do you learn which things are most important to your readers?  Essentially, we are looking for topics that your readers in your specialty will want to share with their friends or business colleagues.

There are several tools that can help us to learn which topics are most important to your readers.  First, we are assuming that your blog is about a highly specialized set of topics.  The narrower the focus the more likely you are to attract dedicated readers.   We also assume that you are posting on a regular basis.  Research shows that bloggers who post at least two to three times a week will build a growing and dedicated readership.

Analytic tools such as Google Analytics or Adobe Site Catalyst track the number of visitors and which key words they use to find your blog through natural search.  Using your site analytics you can see the number of people who visit your site for each keyword.  Go through your analytics results and choose the top 100 keyword phrases that receive the largest number of visitors.  These key words will become the most popular topics that you can write about for your readers. Continue reading “How to Use Analytics and Blog Search Tools to Choose Blog Writing Topics”

The Agile Pocket Guide – Peter Saddington – Now on Amazon for Pre-Order!

Super excited that my next book: The Agile Pocket Guide is now up on Amazon.com for pre-order!

It’s been a long road since I first got rejected by many publishers and finally self-published and then grabbed Wiley’s attention!


Agile 2012 – August 13-17, 2012 – Scaling Product Ownership at the DoD

Yup. I’ll be speaking about Scaling Product Ownership with the Department of Defense and United States Air Force. I also have to submit a nice IEEE formatted paper on the Experience Report.

I’ll be in Room Ft. Worth 7 — time: Wednesday 16:00 – 16:30. Sounds delicious.

See you there!

Personal Kaizen of Self – Grow Yourself

I’ve written a lot previously about kaizen of self. Continual learning and growing.

As an Agile Coach, that means that we have to continuously live by what we preach.

We need to keep learning. Period.

Sometimes that means… reading and learning about stuff that will help you be a more effective coach… even if (initially) it may seem dry and boring. Sounds crazy? Well see what I’m reading to help me with a lean-warehouse expansion project. It actually is quite enlightening!

Grow yourself. You’ll appreciate it in the end.

Retrospective 85 – Personality Profiles, Retention of Employees, and Learning

Weekly Commenters:

Five Top Questions about Search Engine Optimization

When you start the search optimization campaign for your new blog or web site, a few questions always occur. Here are answers to the most frequent questions about SEO.

1) How long does it take to see results from a search engine optimization campaign, is a common question.

A new, well optimized web page may take weeks to get indexed and show up in the search results. For a new web page to be search optimized, and then move into the first page of Google search results is  another story.

Think of search optimization for any individual blog post or web page as an iterative process. You may build a new page or optimize an existing page. You wait a week or two to see the new results in your search page result rank. Then you study the competing pages that rank above you in search results, to see what characteristics of that page made it successful in the search engine competition. You optimize again and then wait to see how Google reacts to your optimizations. You repeat this process until your pages rank on the first page of Google search results.

But we still haven’t answered the question. This can depend on how well optimized your competitors’ web pages are optimized. If competing web pages are poorly optimized, your optimized web pages with useful content may rank on the first search engine result page within the first few weeks or months. This is often the case with retail web pages, technical web pages or hobby web pages. If there are many well optimized competitors you may face months of work to move your web pages to the first page of search results. Continue reading “Five Top Questions about Search Engine Optimization”

Agile in Hardware Projects – When Issues Arise

Ruhroh. Looks like we have some issues here…

What you see above is one of the hardware issues we encountered when we started laying the conveyors for a hardware and Agile manufacturing project, conducted in an Agile fashion.

If it don’t fit…

So let’s talk about the implications of taking an Agile approach when these types of issues arise:

  • Contractor Considerations – We need to talk with the hardware contractors as to what happened here.
  • Supplies – How can we get the right supplies, (sooner rather than later) to help mitigate this issue?
  • Timeline – How does this affect our total roll out of the right supplies being shipped, installed, and QA tested?

We ended up having a conversation with the Operations Director on site to discuss the downstream implications that could (hopefully not) affect our installation of the terminals, scanners, as well as package readers and further conveyor belt installation.

We Stood Up and Talked Right on the Scene Continue reading “Agile in Hardware Projects – When Issues Arise”

Business Optimization and Human Potential

We are often blind.

As Agile Coaches, consultants, and organizational improvers, we strive to help teams and businesses alike improve their performance, output, and even culture.

The problem is… that we often come into a team or business blind, not understanding the full context of each team and each individual who makes up that team.

This is a problem.

To be the most effective we need to understand how people operate. We need to understand how they work collectively, as a group, as a team, and as individuals. The quicker we can assess and understand the contextual culture of our clients and teams, we are left to empirically deduce assumptions that most often are half-truths.

As we jump into consulting or coaching with any client, it would be great to know their cultural context, how people are behaving, and even how to engage with them best.

Easier said than done, until TeamScience™ dropped on the scene.

TeamScience™ – Business Optimization and Human Potential

Continue reading “Business Optimization and Human Potential”

Retrospective 84 – Servant Leader #Fail & History of #Agile

Weekly Commenters:

113 Crickets – A Journal of Creative Writing from Silicon Valley

113 Crickets is a new literary periodical based in Silicon Valley and published quarterly by Dymaxicon and edited by Tobias Mayer.

Through the publication of both technology-orientated books and works of fiction it strives to promote connections between the two fields. With the advent of agile practices, complexity science, and other modern, more human-centric ideas over the past ten years, many leading technology companies and start-ups alike have embraced a new approach to running businesses, one that treats work as a creative endeavor, and people as unique individuals, rather than components of a system. Such an approach lends itself naturally to craftsmanship and art, hence our effort to seek out and form connections between technology and the literary world.

113 Crickets will feature prose, poetry and short stories by new and upcoming writers, alongside extracts from Dymaxicon’s own literary publications, coupled with author interviews. In addition to this content 113 Crickets will embrace its Silicon Valley roots by seeking published writers from the Bay Area to participate in the project.

*FYI – 113 Crickets is currently #1 on the Amazon Hot New Releases: Best Poetry list, and have been there for the past two days 🙂 Continue reading “113 Crickets – A Journal of Creative Writing from Silicon Valley”

Being a Servant Leader is HARSH – ScrumMasters Who Don’t Believe in Servant Leadership

In one of my Agile workshops with a client recently I had one of the most revealing exercises around the term “Servant Leadership” to a bunch of ScrumMasters.

Almost all of my participants in the workshop (about 8 people) had never previously heard of the term “servant leader.” I asked the group what feelings they had around the term. Their responses sent chills up my spine…


“I don’t like the term. At our company this isn’t acceptable.”

“When I think about the words, I don’t like it. The word ‘servant’ turns me off.’

“We don’t use those words here. It doesn’t fit into our culture.”

I had known that the client environment was a place of fear. A place where mistakes were not acceptable, and management was very controlling. I had no idea of the toll it had taken on their employees.

ScrumMasters who don’t believe in servant leadership

The fact is: If your… catalysts for positive change (i.e. YOUR SCRUMMASTERS) do not believe in servant leadership, you’re pretty much screwed… well. Not really. There is potential for this to change… but it will be a very hard, long, and up-hill battle with the entire system.

What was so revealing to me was that the ScrumMaster’s responses were so indicative of the cultural dysfunctions at play.

When your ScrumMasters say they don’t believe in servant leadership… it’s time to look in the mirror and really reflect on your company culture.

History of Agile – The Influencers and Drivers of the Agile Movement

A recap of how we got to where we are now…

In February this year agile movement completes 11 years of existence. I am sure you are either using some form of agile methodology or examining the possibility of using them. But, are you aware of how the agile movement happened? Did it happen by chance or was it inevitable? Do you know what influenced the agile manifesto? Who the authors are? What are their backgrounds and what do they do now? How was the name “Agile” selected?

The Influencers

It is clear from the notes published by Jon Kern that 4 methodologies had significant influence on the manifesto – they are:

  1. Scrum (Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber – also Mike Beedle)
  2. DSDM (DSDM Consortium represented by Arie van Bennekum)
  3. ASD (Jim Highsmith)
  4. XP (Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham and Ron Jeffries – Martin Fowler)

Prior to the meet all these methodologies were classified as “Lightweight Methodologies”. The meet happened as a logical consequence of an earlier get together of XP proponents organized by Kent Beck. The push for the actual meet came from Bob Martin. Here are the milestones (1992-2003) that had significant impact on the movement. Also, I have tried to attach a face to every name – hope you find it interesting.

1992 – Crystal Methods

Crystal was the starting point of the evolution of software development methodologies which ultimately resulted in what we know as agile movement. The honor of creating Crystal goes to Alistair Cockburn. The methodology was named “Crystal” only in 1997.Crystal can be applied to teams of up to 6 or 8 co-located developers working on systems that are not life-critical. You can see the seeds of agile manifesto in Crystal because it focuses on – (1) Frequent delivery of usable code to users, (2) Reflective improvement and (3) Osmotic communication preferably by being co-located.Here is a post by him on “Notes on the writing of the agile manifesto“.He is a consulting fellow at Humans and Technology which he had founded. (See: His Biography page)I could not locate him in LinkedIn.

1993 – Refactoring

Refactoring was coined by Bill Opdyke in a paper titled “Creating Abstract Superclasses by Refactoring”.This is how Wikipedia describes code refactoring:Code refactoring is “disciplined technique for restructuring an existing body of code, altering its internal structure without changing its external behavior”, undertaken in order to improve some of the nonfunctional attributes of the software. He is now the Architecture Lead at JPMorgan Chase. (Soure: LinkedIn profile)

1994 – Dynamic Systems Development Method

DSDM, unlike all the other items listed in this post, was created by a Consortium. The consortium was an association of vendors and experts in the field of software engineering. The objective was to “jointly developing and promoting an independent RAD framework” by combining their best practice experiences.There isn’t any individual who can be credited with the creation of DSDM but Jennifer Stapleton, as one of the founder member of DSDM consortium was instrumental in the initial compilation of thoughts.She is now a management consultant in UK. (See: LinkedIn profile)

Arie van Bennekum, one of the authors of the agile manifesto has been actively involved in DSDM and the DSDM Consortium since 1997.DSDM focuses on the following 8 principles of (1) Focus on the business need, (2) Deliver on time, (3) Collaborate, (4) Never compromise quality, (5) Build incrementally from firm foundations, (6) Develop iteratively, (7) Communicate continuously and clearly and (9) Demonstrate control. Again, you can see the seeds of agile manifesto!He is now a Senior Consultant, Programmanager, Project Manager, Facilitator, Trainer,  Coach, Mentor, Teacher etc. in Netherlands. (See: LinkedIn profile)

Scrum1995 – Scrum and Pair Development

SCRUM was jointly created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaberwho presented a paper describing it at OOPSLA ’95 in Austin, Texas.Jeff Sutherland is the CEO at Scrum, Inc. (Source: LinkedIn profile).Ken Schwaber is a founder of Scrum.org. (Source: LinkedIn profile).

Mike Beedle has been one of the very early adopter on Scrum and has introduced Scrum to many organizations since the mid-90′s.As you know Scrum has practically been the de facto standard for agile.He is now the Founder and CEO at Enterprise Scrum. (See: LinkedIn profile)


Pair Development

Pair Development as a concept was simultaneously but independently written about by more than one person.Jim Coplien published a paper titled “A Development Process Generative Pattern Language” which contained a pattern “Developing in Pairs”.He is a Lean and Agile Software Development Coach in Denmark. (Source: LinkedIn profile)

Larry Constantine talked about “Dynamic Duos” in his book “Constantine on Peopleware” published in the same year. This concept went on to become an integral part of Extreme Programming.Though lot of research has been conducted to show the effectiveness of pair programming, the concept or philosophy does not really reflect in the Agile Manifesto.He is now a Novelist, and University Professor in USA, (Source: LinkedIn profile)


1997 – Feature Driven Development

Feature Driver Development was initially devised by Jeff De Luca.The best practices of FDD are, (1) Domain Object Modeling, (2) Developing by Feature, (3) Individual Class (Code) Ownership, (4) Feature Teams, (5) Inspections, (6) Configuration Management, (7) Regular Builds and (8) Visibility of progress and results.Interestingly, “Individual Class (Code) Ownership” goes against the concept joint code ownership which is considered a key practice today.He is now the President at Nebulon. (Source: LinkedIn profile)


However, the FDD process was explained to the world through the publication of the book “Java Modeling in Color with UML: Enterprise Components and Process” which he coauthored with Peter Coad.He had built and sold TogetherSoft to Borland. Currently he is into many things other than Agile! (See: petercoad.com)He has a LinkedIn page but it is empty with no connection!

Jon Kern, one of the authors of the agile manifesto, had closely worked with both Jeff De Luca and Peter Coad and had helped shape the charter on FDD.Here are his “Agile Manifesto Notes – Feb 2001, Snowbird, Utah“. These have been dug out and hosted by Jeff Sutherland.He describer himself as Software Development Quarterback and is associated with multiple companies. (See: LinkedIn profile)

Adaptive Software Development1999 – Many Things Happened

Jim Highsmith formalized the Concept of Adaptive System Development and published a book with the same name.The idea grew out of his work on Rapid Application Development methodologies.He proposed a three phase lifecycle of – (1) Speculation, (2) Collaboration and (3) Learning.He has also written the history or the story behind the formulation of agile manifesto.He is now an Executive Consultant at ThoughtWorks. (See: LinkedIn profile)

The Pragmatic Programmer

Andrew Hunt published the book The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master.The book laid out characteristics of a pragmatic programmer as the one who is (1) Early adopter / fast adapter, (2) Inquisitive, (3) Critical thinker, (4) Realistic and (5) Jack-of-all-trades.He describes himself as Pragmatic /\ndy — speaker, author, publisher! (See: LinkedIn profile)

The coauthor of the book was Dave Thomas.If you go through the detailed list of recommendation you will see its influence on the manifesto.Here are his recollection of the what transpired in the meet in 2001 February – “Some Agile History“.He describes himself as a Software Visionary! (See: LinkedIn profile)

Extreme Programming, User Stories, Release Planning and Continuous Integration

While Kent Beck was working at Chrysler he developed the concept of Extreme Programming. He published the method in 1999 as a book – Extreme Programming Explained.As a part of Extreme Programming, he also introduced the concept of User Stories and Release Planning.The methodology specifies best practices for planning, managing, designing, coding and testing.He is at Facebook and calls himself a Programmer!! (See: LinkedIn profile)

Apart from being a collaborator for the in XP, Ward Cunninghamis also as the creator of the Wiki.Apart from being the Founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, he is also the CTO at CitizenGlobal. (See: LinkedIn profile)



Ron Jeffrieswas also the collaborator and three of them together are considered as the founder of XP.His biography page states that he developing software longer than most people have been alive. (See: Biographical Notes).I could not locate him in LinkedIn.

Though some people think that Martin Fowler introduced the term Continuous Integration in reality CI has also been coinedby Kent Beck.Here is his recollection on the “Writing The Agile Manifesto“.He calls himself an author and speaker and is working with Thoughtworks. (See: About Martin Fowler)I could not locate him in LinkedIn.



2000 – Events leading up to the Manifesto

Bob Martin took the initiative to get the ball rolling on organizing the historic meeting to be held on February 2001 at “The Lodge” at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.He is the Owner of Uncle Bob Consulting. (See: LinkedIn profile)


2001 – Agile Manifesto

2001 February + ‘The Lodge’ at Snowbird Ski Resort + 17 Thinkers = Agile Manifesto

Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van BennekumAlistair CockburnWard CunninghamMartin Fowler, James GrenningJim HighsmithAndrew HuntRon Jeffries, Jon KernBrian Marick, Bob MartinStephen MellorKen SchwaberJeff Sutherland, and Dave Thomas

2002 – More Agile Concepts

Test Driven Development

For TDD the credit goes to Kent Beck. The concept of Test Driven Development also originated from XP test-first approach. It was given a shape later by Kent Beck through the book Test Driven Development: By Example.


Planning Poker

The concept of Planning Poker was formulated by James Grenning.Here is the original paper.He is the Founder of Renaissance Software Consulting. (Source: LinkedIn Profile)



What about Brian Marick and Stephen Mellor?

He is the Owner at Exampler Consulting and calls himself Software consultant, specializing in agile methods with a testing slant. (See: LinkedIn profile)




He calls himself a “Freeter”, a Japanese word, derived from English, that means “free agent.” (Source: His home page)He resides in Zimbabwe and here is his LinkedIn profile.



2003 – Lean Software Development

Is Lean Software Developmentan extension to agile methodology? Should we look at it as something distinct from agile? Should it find a place in this post? I have included it for the primary reason that many agilists consider it to be one of the future directions of agile movement.Anyway; term was coined by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieckin 2003.It is an adaptation of lean manufacturing principles and practices to the software development. There are seven principles – (1) Eliminate waste, (2) Amplify learning, (3) Decide as late as possible, (4) Deliver as fast as possible, (5) Empower the team, (6) Build integrity in and (7) See the whole. Amplify learning, deliver as fast as possible, empower the team etc. goes very well with agile principles.I am not so sure about eliminate waste and see the whole.

HT: [Sys-Con]

User Stories Help Build Sales’ Stuff

I’ve been thinking how  product development, product marketing and sales teams should be joined at the hip.

Seems only natural since we build stuff (tools, live product demos, APPS, websites, etc) to support sales’ efforts converting leads to customers. One thing I have noticed is that not everyone in this triad is on the same page regarding “done” or what is to “be done” when it comes to creating sales tools. That’s a problem. Continue reading “User Stories Help Build Sales’ Stuff”

Retrospective 83 – Agile Gamification, Giveaway, More Agile Lists

Weekly Commenters:

[Giveaway] – iPad? Love Agile? Capture your Retrospective Notes!

Retrospectives App for iPad GIVEAWAY!

Retail Price? $2.99! YAY!

For agile developers who reflect at regular intervals on how to improve their processes, this app provides a set of discussion tools that can be used to brainstorm and energize their retrospective meetings.

While not pretending to replace the collective discussion involving physical whiteboards and stickies, this app benefits those who like to prepare inputs for retrospectives or search for an easy way to capture and share the results.


  • Touch based whiteboard and sticky notes
  • Timeline – a visual overview of the events that occurred in the retrospective period
  • Radar – helps the team to gather data on how well they are doing on a variety of measures
  • Leaning Matrix – used to to find out what is significant about the data and generate insights on what should be repeated, changed, tried as well as to congratulate team members on a job well done
  • Short Subjects – used when a quick way to review and decide what to do is needed
  • Starfish – used to reflect on various degrees of things to bring up to discussion
  • Positive / Delta – discuss things to keep and change in the next retrospective
  • Twitter and email sharing


Throw us a comment on how you would use this iPad app for your RETROSPECTIVES.

We’ll choose… 3 winners! 

That is all. 🙂


Know an Obscure Agile Voice?

Looking for 100 Agile Voices…

That was the first half of the headline Tuesday.  There was more to it.

Mark Levison is looking for “lesser known” agile voices. More obscure bloggers, authors, etc. Not the ones you’ll already find on someone else’s “Top 100” list.  As Mark headlined it,

…voices we should hear more from

Hmmm… Sounds a bit like that new NBC TV show, The Voice, doesn’t it?

Mark wants your nominations.  Maybe you can help…

Continue reading “Know an Obscure Agile Voice?”