Posts Tagged ‘Agile’

Things happening that are good for my ego ;)

Agile & Lean, Facilitation, Photography, Presentation, Travel | Posted by Doc List
Nov 30 2015

Tomorrow (Tuesday, December 1, 2015) I will be featured in “Photography and the Art of Facilitation“. It’s a virtual, online event in which I get to talk about two of my favorite things – Agile and Photography – via one of my professional areas of expertise, facilitation.

On Sunday, December 6, 2015 I leave for Spant! in The Netherlands. On Tuesday, 12/8, I’ll be delivering a keynote at the Continuous Delivery Conference. My topic is “Continuous Delivery requires Continuous Communication“.

Coming up next year I’ll be at a number of conferences and conventions in both the Agile and Photography worlds. I’ll also be teaching more classes in Austin, including my well-received class on creating composites in Photoshop. Here’s a recent example.Amanda at the Prison

For those of my readers who are not uncomfortable with some nudity (“appropriate” nudity – no genitalia and no nipples showing on women), I’ve been busy this year with a passion project called the Austin Bodies Project. It’s primarily focused on celebrating fitness and the human body. It’s had an excellent response, including at the exhibit I had at the Gallery at the Ground Floor Theatre. If you are so inclined, can scroll back to August to see images of the exhibit.

In January, I’ll be volunteering at the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) annual convention called ImagingUSA in Atlanta. At the same time, I’ll get to learn from some top professionals, see the outstanding images that received merits* during this year (including mine), and hang out with some of my photographer friends.

In between all of this, I continue to work as an Agile Coach and Trainer, and as a photographer. I’ve got some weddings coming up, more work on the Austin Bodies Project, completing my application to be a PPA Certified Professional Photographer, and of course there are the holidays.

Walking in sync

Agile & Lean | Posted by Doc
Aug 29 2013

At the client facility where I’ve been doing coaching and facilitation/training, they have large, long corridors floored in tile.

The other day, as I was walking out – about the equivalent of three city blocks – I heard footsteps behind me. Click click click of hard heeled shoes. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a woman walking in the same direction I was going. No big deal.

I faced forward and continued walking.

I heard the sounds of another person coming into the main corridor from a side corridor. Now the sounds went

Clickclick click click click…click clickclick click click clickclick…

As I listened it changed to

clickclick cliclick clclick click click click click

Just in case that’s not clear (LOL), what happened was that these two women started to walk in sync. It continued for a few more seconds until it was clear that they were walking perfectly in sync with each other.

meetingI turned to look and saw that they were not together in any way, and were walking on opposite sides of the corridor.

I blurted “You synchronized!” They looked at me, looked at each other, and laughed.

Now let’s consider the larger implications of this simple experience. Two people who apparently did not know each other, organically beginning to move in sync with each other.

How does this play in teams? (You knew I was going to go here, didn’t you? 😉 )

Consider a group of people who may or may not have worked together before, who have different work styles and rhythms, who see things differently and understand things differently. Throw them together in a modest sized room, give them some guidance on how they might work together, get them started, and coach and guide them. Mightn’t they also begin to walk in sync?

Walking in sync doesn’t mean that they become identical. The two women walking down the corridor behind me were not the same height, were no doubt thinking about different things, were carrying different things in their hands, wearing different shoes, and so on, and yet they naturally fell into sync with each other. Their differences remained, and yet they began to “work” together organically.

This is what we expect to see on Agile teams: organically beginning to work in sync, to develop rhythms and patterns that belong to the team, as much as to the individuals. We see this on high performing teams consistently.

Are you fighting the rhythm or letting it flow through you?

No one Agile

Agile & Lean, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 28 2013

What’s the right way to do Agile?

Thinking differentlyIs Kanban Agile? Or is there Agile and Kanban and Lean and…?

Is iterative harder than Kanban or vice versa?

These questions and more seem to lead to organizations making statements like “this is the way that WE do Agile!”

I don’t object to an organization choosing an approach, unless they choose from a position of ignorance or confusion or both. And that’s what I see a lot.

There is no one way or right way. Even within a single organization, there might be variations that make sense.

There is no Agile Cookbook. There’s a pantry, a refrigerator, a stove, and a bunch of hungry people. Go figure it out.

The Subtleties of Language

Agile & Lean | Posted by Doc
Aug 20 2012

Are you an agile coach? A Scrum Master? An Agile Project Manager?

Then I have some questions for you…

  • Do you run meetings or facilitate meetings?
  • Do you drive your project, or do you support and enable your project?
  • Do you assign work or do you track and report progress?
  • Are you in charge or do you serve?

I’ve run into quite a number of folks who have not yet figured out that the language they use both reflects their thinking and communicates their mindset.

I encourage you to consider your role and your purpose, and then consider how your language – both thought and spoken – reflects and affects.

Agile as Exercise

Agile & Lean | Posted by Doc
Aug 06 2012

I made a new friend at the gym. His name is Joe. Joe and I have been seeing each other at the gym for a few years, and finally introduced ourselves. Typical male gym behavior, I think.

We got to talking about our lives, and I learned that Joe is not in the world of software.

Joe asked me what I do outside of the gym, and I started to tell him about Agile Software Development. He had no clue what I was talking about, so I started looking for an analogy that would be meaningful. As I often do when searching for ideas and words, I looked around me.

Here’s what I realized, as I tried to explain Agile Software Development to Joe.

Waterfall exercise: decide exactly what I want to look like a year from now, prepare a detailed exercise and diet plan that covers every day between now and the end of the year, work on one muscle group at a time (imagine building arms, then legs, then core, then back, then chest,…), and at the end of the year, hope that I have a well balanced, proportional, healthy, attractively sculpted body. Resist change, follow the plan as closely as possible, and hope that it all comes out right.

Agile exercise: well, this is what most of us really do. Plan a week or two (or even four) ahead in some degree of detail. Work on our whole body during each – umm – iteration. Adapt our workout and our diet to the progress we’re making, and as we discover what is working well and what is not working as well. Continuously improve our fitness, our health, and our understanding of exercise and how it affects us. Commit on an ongoing basis, seek input from our “stakeholders” (my wife, my children, my friends, my gym friends), keep learning by reading and talking and such, and consider it always a work-in-progress. Engage a coach (trainer) when I feel I need one. Share what I’m learning with others.

Which sounds more natural to you?

Announcing my new position at Neudesic

Agile & Lean, Career, Musings | Posted by Doc
Sep 26 2011

I’m thrilled to share this with all of you. As of the 12th of this month, I joined Neudesic, which is based in Irvine, California and has offices in a number of cities around the United States and in India.

Neudesic is a Microsoft National Systems Integrator and Gold ISV Partner with a proven track record of providing reliable, effective solutions based on Microsoft’s technology platform. Our technical and industry expertise empower enterprises to enhance their technological capacity and respond to business opportunities with greater efficiency.

I get to work with my good friends Ted Neward and Simon Guest, both of whose judgement I respect.

My title is “National Agile Evangelist”. That means I’ll be focusing on how we can be more effective at developing and delivering our services through the use of Agile, Lean/Kanban, and whatever methodologies suit. I’ll also be focusing on how we assist our clients in adopting these practices and principles to the betterment of their organizations.

The process going from day one (“your position is no longer being funded” at TW) to making the decision to join Neudesic was thoroughly enjoyable for me. I got to spend time with people I knew and liked, people I didn’t yet know and discovered I liked, and also to learn about what’s going on in the Agile Coaching space in the United States.

For each of you that contributed to the journey, please accept my gratitude.

I hope I can do the same for others.

Summer Camp Syndrome™

Events, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 13 2011

Have you ever attended summer camp? I did, several times, as a kid. I think the last time was when I was thirteen years old. Growing up in New York City, it provided an escape for me (although I didn’t always love it) and a break for my mother, who spent her year working and raising two children.

Why do you care?

I just returned from attending Agile2011. I spent five nights and five days immersed in the community of friends, colleagues, luminaries, associates, strangers, and vendors that comprise the event. As always, it was entertaining, illuminating, exhausting, and heart-warming.

I had conversations about techniques and challenges, career and day-to-day work, my recent job situation, family, friendship, travel, technology, games,… I’m sure you get the picture.

I spent much of my time in the Open Jam, as I was the Producer and felt some responsibility there, and because that’s where I would spend a lot of time anyway because I love to shmooze with people, and because I’m looking for a new job and it was a good place to catch up with people to talk about it. And I did – shmooze, talk about jobs, and fulfill my responsibilities.

I also attended a couple of sessions, and poked my head into a few others.  I delivered my Facilitation Fun! session in the Open Jam Fringe to a small but enthusiastic group. I coordinated the PechaKucha area and presented there one evening.

I wrote a few blog posts while I was there, stimulated by recent events in my career and by the book I’m currently reading.

Mostly, I was immersed in the sense of community that exists at this event. I’ve experienced it at lots of other events, as well, but the Agile20xx events bring a sense of community that is remarkable. There’s a sense of intention, collaboration, and connection that I rarely experience elsewhere.
And then it was Friday. I had two meetings on Friday morning, so was only able to spend a short time in the halls, catching up with a few people with whom I had not yet caught up, and waving and saying goodbye to and hugging a number of others. The event was primarily at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City, with some sessions and some lodging across the street in the Little America hotel.  On Friday morning after my last meeting, as I started to leave the Grand America to go across to finish packing and leaving, I hesitated on the threshhold of the Grand America.

“Have I seen the people I wanted to see, and said goodbye properly?”

I looked at my watch, and thought about it for a minute, standing there quietly, looking across the driveway towards the Little America across the street.

Summer Camp Syndrome™.

I found myself feeling drawn back into the venue so I could extend the immersion and the feeling of connectedness and belonging. I was exhausted, had just enough time to finish packing and check out, and still – irrationally – felt myself drawn back in. After all, with 1600+ people attending, and knowing many dozens, perhaps hundreds, of them, it’s obvious that I had not been able to even see, much less talk with, all the folks that I would have liked to connect with.

So there I stood, on the threshold both physically and emotionally, considering the irrational. Should I go back in, make at least one more pass through the halls, maybe feeling rushed for time, or continue on my way and do the rational thing.

It was agony. The banquet the night before was “the climax” of the event, but of course I only saw a relatively small number of people there. I was feeling like I wanted something like the closing circle of an Open Space. Not exactly, but something like it. Some sense of closure and completion was lacking for me.

I did the rational thing, mentally and emotionally and physically leaving the event and the community, and walked across the street to the Little America.

Of course, it’s never that clean and simple. I ran into friends from ThoughtWorks in the lobby of the Little America and stopped to chat. After packing and while on my way out, I ran into friends from Leandog and stopped to chat. Waiting outside to go to the airport were Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd, creators of the Agile Coaching Institute. We rode to the airport together, and I continued the connection while walking through the airport and having lunch with Lyssa.

Lyssa and I separated after lunch, me going directly to my gate, which was right there, Lyssa heading off to another terminal for a later flight.

Summer Camp Syndrome™.

There’s a feeling almost like addiction and withdrawal, regarding an event like this. The immersion is so powerful, so emotional, that it’s almost a physical pain to end it – to cut it off. That’s “Summer Camp Syndrome” – the sadness, sorrow, and sense of disconnection that comes at the end of an immersive, community event in which strong connections are formed. The need for continuation and closure, all at the same time, that leaves me (and maybe you) standing at the threshold feeling simultaneously drawn in and out.

There’s no question that I’m very happy to be home with my lovely wife of 35 years, Debbie.

And there’s no question that I’m feeling sad about the people I didn’t see and talk with, the people I did see and talk with but didn’t get to say farewell to, and even the people I spent time with at the end, because that time ended too. I am, as I said, exhausted, but in the best possible way. And I’m eager for next year’s conference, so I can do it all again.

In the meantime, I hope I’ll see some of these folks at other events coming up, like Pablo’s Fiesta, Agile Open Southern California, and Øredev.

I don’t even want to stop writing this post, because it helps me to keep feeling connected.

But I will. 😉

The joy of conferencing – Agile2011

Agile & Lean, Events | Posted by Doc
Aug 05 2011

It’s coming up – the biggest conference in the Agile community each year: Agile2011.

This year, I’m the producer of the Open Jam, with my assistant producer being Rachel Davies. I’ll get back to this in a minute.

There are several reasons to attend a conference like this:

  1. Learning
  2. Networking (shmoozing)
  3. Selling and marketing
  4. Teaching and sharing
  5. Volunteering or otherwise working at the conference

The first question I ask myself before I go is “What is my purpose here? Do I have multiple purposes? Is there one thing, or some small set of things, that I’d like to accomplish? When I get back home, what will make me feel that the time was well spent or wasted?”

If you know me, you know I spend a bunch of time in #2 (shmoozing) and, if given the opportunity, a bunch of time in #4 (teaching and sharing). It’s not unlikely that I will be doing #5 (volunteering) and #1 (learning). Up until Tuesday of this week, I was expecting to do a bit of #3 (selling/marketing) on behalf of ThoughtWorks. Clearly, I’ll have that time free. 😉

Are you going? If so, what’s your purpose? If your employer/organization is sending you, how will you justify their investment? Will you be better at your job? Be sure that you have some way to identify the benefits you receive, and that your employer/organization therefore receives, based on the events you attend and connections you make.

Now, that said, on to the Open Jam…

In order to make the whole event richer, the organizers of Agile2011 have, for the past few years held an “Open Jam”. It partakes of concepts like birds-of-a-feather (BOF), Open Space Technology/Unconferences, and lounge. Depending on where it has been, who has been responsible, and what’s going on in the conference, it has presented a different face each year. This year, with Rachel and myself producing it, we’ve decided to introduce a couple of extras as part of the Open Jam.

  1. PechaKucha (pronounced, if you care, as p’cha-k’cha, not peh-cha-koo-cha): each day, after the programmed sessions have ended, the stage is yours. Come present 20 slides at 20 seconds each for a total of six minutes and forty seconds (6:40). Talk about anything you like: hobbies, technology, passions, sports, design, whatever you like. It should be fun and exciting!
  2. Coaches Corner: thanks to the leadership of Mark Levison, there will be an area with experienced Agile coaches who will maintain “office hours” so others can come talk with them. Got challenges? Problems? Curiosity? Just learning? Come and talk to them during their office hours. Various organizations and independents will be represented. You can’t lose!
  3. The Fringe: there were many excellent proposals submitted to the conference earlier this year. Having been one of the reviewers, I can tell you that it is never easy to eliminate some. It’s like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance – it doesn’t matter how good you are, not everyone can win. So we (okay, Rachel) thought it might be nice to have a non-stage on which some of these folks can deliver the goods. We went through the non-accepted proposals (they weren’t rejected, y’know), and have picked an interesting sample (including yours truly, btw) for you.
  4. Park Bench: this will be a place where, among other things, the original authors of A Manifesto for Agile Software Development (“the Agile manifesto”) will be dropping by from time to time.
I won’t tell you what it is, but there’s one more cool surprise in store for folks in the Open Jam.  Seriously.  It’ll be awesome.

I’ll be there from Sunday afternoon through Friday evening.  Not necessarily in the Open Jam the whole time, but the odds are good that you’ll see me there a time or two if you look for me.

Where is the greatest friction?

Agile & Lean, Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 03 2011

Between coaching and training, I’ve dealt with a number of organizations that are trying – in one way or another – to adopt Agile principles, practices, and methodologies.

I’m frequently asked “What is the hardest part? Is it the engineering practices? The predictability (or lack thereof)? Staffing?”

None of the above (you probably guessed that).

Boundary friction. Yup, that’s it. Boundary friction.

Train TracksImagine two trains. They’re running on tracks that sometimes run parallel, and sometimes diverge and come back together. When they get close enough, they actually touch.

Got it? Got the image of two trains racing or plodding along, coming closer and moving farther away, and sometimes coming into contact? Can you hear the train whistles and the sound of the wind and the wheels?  Feel the vibration?

If they’re both moving at the same speed, what happens when they come together?

Nothing. Smooth, easy, no friction.

What if they’re moving at different speeds? Faster versus slower is not better or worse, just different. So what happens?

Friction. Things heat up, maybe metal gets bent or crunched or marred. It is not smooth and easy, is it?

When organizations are implementing agile (or any systemic change, really), without considering the whole organization, friction is inevitable. Let’s say that Business Operations is used to doing things one way, and isn’t ready to change (yet). Along comes this project team that’s doing Agile. Again, I’m not arguing that “agile is faster/better”, I’m just saying that it’s like they’re moving at different speeds. Where they come together, there will be more or less friction depending on how close to parallel and how close to the same speed they are.

In this case, it means that if both organizations are not embracing the change in similar ways, there will be more friction.

You can’t impose a change on part of the organization without affecting the rest of the organization. That’s ostrich behavior.

The trick, the secret (it’s actually neither a trick nor a secret, though) is to figure out how to get them to truly come together.

That doesn’t mean telling Business Operations (or Sales or Product Management or…) “For this to work, you have to adopt Agile principles and practices and methodologies. Now. Today.”

No, it means figuring out how to evolve together, taking smaller or larger steps when they’re appropriate. Like embracing the Last Responsible Moment principle. Like the Simple Design principle.

Implement as much change as you can readily absorb, in order to get you a bit further along. Then inspect and adapt. Don’t rush.

Organizations are organisms, and the organs and skeletal structure are all part of the same organism.

Or trains. Yeah, they’re trains. 😉

Dilbert and Testing

Agile & Lean | Posted by Doc
May 15 2011

This is such a good object lesson about testing, it’s almost not funny.

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