BrainsLink

Linking the left brain and the right brain

Get Out of the Way

The one word that best encapsulates the spirit of an agile project is teamwork. You cannot be truly agile without teamwork. You may want to be. You may think you are. You may even use agile techniques. But if your “team” members are favoring their individual agendas; if they are more interested in personal goals; […]

Big Organizations Need Your Help to Be Agile

Organizational structure can be a major roadblock to agile adoption. Consider that software development, quality assurance, business development, product marketing, etc. are separate organizations. Then it gets worse. Even within a functional group, organizational silos evolve. For example, within software development there may be a database group, a java apps group, a .Net apps group, […]

Keep It Simple and Reduce Risk Via Agile

There are two things that agile software development does really well. Unfortunately, they are widely misunderstood or even ignored. Keep things simple. Manage risk. Let’s examine these a bit. Simpler is better because people can only remember so much. If you have to refer to the rule book every time a decision needs to be […]

Be Disruptive. Be Agile.

Agile software development is disruptive. Big companies pride themselves on their ability to plan. Strategic plans, project plans, marketing plans, sales plans…and more plans. Agile teams plan too but they place more emphasis on delivering value. They recognize that plans change so they limit upfront planning and let the plan evolve with the project. That’s […]

Simple Is Better But Not Perfect

Development teams adopt Scrum as the agile methodology of choice more than any other approach. Why is that? Scrum looks easy. The basics are simple to grasp and the rules are few. With little or no formal training, any software development group can pick up Scrum and start coding. Then reality sets in. Realize that […]

Status Reporting: Somebody Has To Do It

Status reporting is a huge headache no matter what software development approach you choose. Big companies tend to have a standard status reporting form, usually a spreadsheet, that has to be filled in for every project. Unfortunately, those status reporting forms are almost always predicated on the use of the waterfall approach. If you hear […]

Give Agile a Chance Not Just a Try

There are many groups who claim they are using Scrum, Kanban, XP or another variation on agile approaches but really aren’t. When you look closely, you find that they haven’t adopted all of the practices that make the approach work. For example, they’ll adopt Scrum but fail to include QA on the development team. Or […]

Agile Is a Mindset Not Just a Ruleset

I sat in a meeting today where we discussed extracting data from one database and inserting it into another. Someone made a well-intentioned comment in an effort to reduce the amount of work needed. Then, a major argument ensued. One side felt that the extra work had to be done while the other side felt […]

To Be More Agile, Use More Common Sense

Too often we get so caught up in the people, process and technology issues that we forget to use simple common sense. When trying to solve a complex problem, we ask questions like: How do John and Jane feel about it? What is the company policy? Is it compatible with our existing widgets? The answers […]

Managers of Agile Teams Must Change Their Behavior

You’ve likely read the twelve agile principles at agilemanifesto.org. There is a lot of food for thought in those words. One of the the principles is particularly difficult for traditional managers to follow: “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” It’s […]

A Couple of Extra Sprints Go a Long Way

If you begin your project with a sprint zero (or iteration zero), does that make you less agile and more like waterfall? A zeroth sprint is generally used to perform some upfront analysis or design work that serves as a foundation for the sprints to follow. It may involve a spike whereby there is a […]

Show Up and Be Agile!

Have you heard the semi-famous quote widely attributed to Woody Allen? “80% of success is showing up.” It’s good advice for everyone on your project team. Let’s first define “showing up”. A physical appearance at the office is not enough. In fact in today’s virtual world, a physical appearance may not matter at all. What […]

Some Projects Deserve to Die

A software project will occasionally get off to a bad start. Maybe it was ill conceived. Maybe the concept was good but the approach is wrong. Maybe the concept and the approach are correct but the team consists of the wrong people. Or, forget all that — maybe the project got off to a good […]

It’s Hard to Follow Agile Rules Exactly

Anytime a team embraces a new agile process a critical question comes up — must they rigidly adhere to the process guidelines or can they make adjustments to fit their needs? Even Scrum, with its simple rule set, falls into this unending debate. You won’t find a strong consensus answer. The compulsive agile practitioners will […]

What Makes Waterfall So Popular?

Big companies love the waterfall approach to software development. Why? It’s simple really. Most big companies thrive on the command and control approach to management. (Yes, it’s rooted in military history.) It works something like this: Define the goal. Prepare a plan to achieve the goal. Assemble the troops. Yell “charge” and schedule weekly status […]

Software Development Is a Faulty Process

Every software development methodology is flawed. Waterfall, Unified Process, Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Kanban, et al — they are all flawed. Each has a place but it’s tough to know which one fits a particular situation best. There are many aspects to consider — company culture, team size and experience, problem complexity and scope, solution type, […]

Agile: To Automate or Not, Does it Matter?

There are raging debates over using pen, paper and whiteboards to track agile projects versus a software tool. The agile purists eschew automation and rely on simple, manual implements. I admit to being a computer advocate. If it was up to me, pens and paper would be banned. But it’s not about what I like. […]

Agile Is Better, But Not Faster

Companies often turn to agile software development in an effort to reduce time to market. Short iterations, frequent deliveries, integrated testing — sounds nimble and fast — right? Not quite. Agile development,when done properly, has a relentless focus on the customer, teamwork, quality and continuous improvement. There is no goal to deliver a final product […]

Good Process Is Not Good Enough

There is much discussion about how to build software right. Agile techniques help in getting the software right. But are a good process and a good result good enough? Are you building the right software? I’m a big fan of risk management and prioritized feature lists but they are not enough. You need to understand […]

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