Month: December 2010

A Team in Conflict Can’t Be Agile

It’s tough to be agile when team members collide. Heck, it’s tough to just get anything done when you have members on the team that don’t get along. It’s unfortunate but it happens — often. Why can’t we all just get along? Hostilities develop for many reasons. At times, it seems that there is no […]

Be Agile to Innovate

Innovation is not a technical problem. Anyone can innovate. It’s a cultural problem. Big organizations block innovation by pulling every idea into the corporate mainstream. It works something like this… Employee: “I have great idea. There is an untapped market for X and we are in a unique position to capture it.” Manager: “Yes, you’re […]

Ready, Set, Stop. Energize!

The week between Christmas and New Year is historically focused on family, not business. Plenty of business gets done, but staffing and intensity levels are reduced. We all need time to unwind, decompress, chill out or simply relax. It seems that many of us make ourselves available 7 days a week, 16-24 hours a day. […]

Sports Lessons Learned for Agile Development Teams

There are some interesting similarities between professional sports teams and agile development teams. Think about it. Whether it’s baseball, basketball, hockey, (American) football or soccer, teams spend a lot of time training and conditioning. They prepare a game plan and create player match-ups. As the game unfolds, they make adjustments. No game ever goes exactly […]

Distributed Agile Works Better

Let’s be honest — managing geographically distributed teams is tough. Here’s a simple breakdown of how teams might be distributed from least distributed to most: Shared space: This is the simplest. Everyone is in close proximity in a shared office area. Separated shared space: Everyone is in the same building but in different areas/floors. Different […]

Agile Development Is Not All Or Nothing

The transition from chaotic software development to agile has got to be easier than the transition from waterfall to agile. If a team is not following any process — just winging it — adopting a structure, any structure, can only help. In my experience, people don’t like chaos — complete lack of any process — […]

Business and Technology Worlds Collide

Dealing with the business users of a software application can be a real challenge. It’s rare that you find a user group that embraces agile software development and wants to actively participate in the process. There are two predominant types of business groups that you’ll encounter in agile development. The first is a business group […]

Be Agile: Build a House Iteratively

People often struggle with how to apply agile techniques, particularly iterations or sprints, to their situation. They are so entrenched in the ways of waterfall that they cannot envision another way. Let’s consider a simple example — building a house. The traditional approach looks something like this (simplified): Design the house. Dig a big hole. […]

Agile Adoption Requires Adaptation

A blog post at the Harvard Business Review, “Why Best Practices Are Hard to Practice”, is worth reading for anyone trying to introduce agile practices into a waterfall shop. The two key ideas in the article are: Introducing a new process into an organization requires adaptation. Just because an approach worked in another firm doesn’t […]

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 […]