24 August 2014

"How Thin is Thin?" An Example of Effective Story Slicing

Graphene is pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly
transparent sheet, one atom thick. It is remarkably strong for
 its very low weight and it conducts heat and electricity
with great efficiency. Wikipedia
If you have spent any time at all working in an Agile software development environment, you've heard the mantra to split your Stories as thin as you possibly can while still delivering value. This is indeed great advice, but the term "thin" is relative - our notion of what thin means is anchored by our previous experience!

To help communicate what I mean when I say that Stories should be thinly sliced, I'm going to provide examples from a recent client who was building a relatively standard system for entering orders from their wholesale customers.

14 August 2014

An Appetite for Change

I've been part of a discussion on Twitter about the vices of imposed Agile adoptions versus the virtues of the approach put forth by Daniel Mezick, OpenAgile Adoption. Regardless of the arguments for or against each approach, creating this dichotomy misses the point.

In May 2012, organizational change consultant Maureen Cunningham gave a talk at Agile Ottawa about Change. She used a number of very interesting exercises and the talk was enthralling. What caught my attention most, and is something I've used a number of time since, was some simple math Maureen presented. Yes, math.

She drew this formula to represent what is needed for change to be successful:
D x V x F > R
  • D is the Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo;
  • V is a clear, compelling, believable Vision;
  • F is the First and reinforcing steps;
  • R is resistance to the change.

12 August 2014

An Existence Proof and The Value of Coaching

I found a tweet I saw this morning rather disconcerting:
The clear implication is that coaches, like all consultants, follow the mantra, "If you can't be part of the solution, there's plenty of money to be made prolonging the problem." In the case of this tweet and numerous others in his Twitter stream, Daniel is suggesting that companies that provide coaching services are simply in the business to make a buck. Any value provided is a nice bonus.

I just completed a 4-month coaching contract in which I spent 4 days a week with a team doing hands-on development, testing and process coaching work. This team didn't ask to "go Agile", their management picked their project as the next one after the pilot. According to Daniel's assertions, this situation was ripe for failure because the approach was mandated rather than accepted by the team.