As a coach, there are a number of stories that I usually talk about to my new teams to help them understand what my job is all about.
One I like to use with teams that think they already know agile is one I call “the night sky” which I based on my own personal experience. It goes something like this; when I was a kid growing up in the suburbs, I frequently played games outside with my friends at night. Sometimes we would look up at the sky and try to identify those constellations we knew. Most often we found the big and little dipper, but our limited knowledge (and limited view) allowed for little else. Nevertheless, to me this was the night sky.
Continue reading “The Night Sky and the Tea Koan”
Most of my 7+ years of Agile coaching and scrum mastering has been working with existing waterfall organizations and helping them become more agile. During this period I have seen a wide range of companies and a wide range of successful adoption, but I have noticed one thing that is constant. This was brought home recently as I reflect on my most recent agile presentation/discussion given at Geekdom in San Antonio last week.
In this Agile open forum the majority of the questions dealt with transitioning from waterfall to agile. This is where I first publicly broached Apke’s law which states:
Your transition to agile will only go as far as the highest ranking manager who understands and supports it.
Continue reading “Apke’s Law”
I am often asked as an Agile Coach when I know that I have been effective at my job. The answer is simple- my work as a coach is done when the team in question is capable of being predictable.
And what, you may ask is predictable? For me it is a team that is capable of consistently delivering 90% or greater of points that have been planned for an iteration. I have given this capability a name. I call it the Gold Standard.
Continue reading “Predictability and The Gold Standard”
Back in January I stressed the need to come up with some new metaphors regarding software development because our old metaphors were causing some problems. I still believe this to be true more than ever. Developers are not just cogs, but are individuals. Research has shown that the most productive developers are up to 10 times more productive than others (see Peopleware for more). You cannot just plug any developer into a product team and expect them to perform at the average level for that team. Domain knowledge counts as well.
However, one thing that I did not do a great job of was suggesting a replacement metaphor. The one I used was the film industry. While I was correct that development is a creative art, it has recently been pointed out to me that making motion pictures usually takes a great deal of upfront planning and design – not a good analogy for an Agile advocate. This misstatement showed that I knew less about the film industry than I do software development.
Continue reading “Software Development is Like 30 Rock – A New Software Development Metaphor Part 2”
When you are an Agile Coach you sometimes must resign yourself to the fact that it will usually take team members awhile to get it and victories can be few and far between. One thing that I can recommend for a quick win and something that has worked well for me on multiple occasions (when it could be implemented) is something that I called office hours. I can only assume that I am not the one who invented this, but it is something that I “discovered” independently to solve the issue of resources being pulled into unproductive meetings when I needed them to be on task for our stories.
Continue reading “Want a Quick Agile Win? Try Office Hours”
When I tell people I am an Agile Coach, unless they are in IT, I tend to get a lot of strange looks. Most of the time they will say something like, “I get the coaching part, but what the heck is Agile?” It is at this part of the conversation that they experience immediate regret as I launch into an endless barrage of commentary on Agile development.
Lately, however, I have begun to re-examine my own assumptions about what it the Coaching aspect of an Agile Coach is, especially now that there are so many professional coaches looking for work after the end of the regular NFL season.
Continue reading “Thoughts on Agile Coaching”