The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

Archive for July 28th, 2009

Delivering Valuable Software, guest Jim Highsmith – Agile Executive #5

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In this episode, Israel and I talk with Jim Highsmith. We center the discusion around the new edition of Jim’s book, Agile Project Management, but this pulls in all sorts of general discussion about Agile:

  • How did Jim get into Agile? Going from traditional software development to Agile.
  • How does Rapid Development compare to Agile? Tools in RAD vs. tools in Agile.
  • Pivoting on a mention of Jim being in China, I ask him about cultural differences of applying Agile, for instance, based on geo-cultural differences.
  • What’s new in the new edition that leads into larger applications of Agile? Release planning, “scaling” self-organizing teams, governance issues, and measuring.
  • How does Agile work in a systems, or hardware plus software situation.
  • Israel asks Jim for some advice on synching up software developed in an Agile fashion with hardware folks. There’s primarily more coordination and dependency management between teams and features.
  • Release planning – most Agile teams focus on iteration planning, without peaking up to concerns at the release level, e.g., budgeting, timing, and marketing concerns.
  • How can “the business” get involved with the process to make sure focus is kept on the release?
  • What’s this “scaling” business? Scaling a team up in size, or scaling a team out in a distributed process.
  • Israel and Jim then dig into distributed scaling, adding in off-premise teams and collaboration.
  • Tracking and measuring things from a (business) strategic orientation. This hits on keeping track of value (will this software make us money?), quality and other “metrics” over time. Who is that determines this “value” ongoing? Getting people to figure out “value points.”
  • Israel then asks Jim for a retrospective on where we’ve been and are after the Agile Manifesto.

Also, see Jim’s sum-up of the new content in the book.

Written by cote

July 28, 2009 at 10:27 am

Using a Combat Metaphor to Apply Agile Principles to the Company

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The Cutter Edge has just published my article Using a Combat Metaphor to Apply Agile Principles to the Company. The metaphor draws from Britain’s struggle for survival during WWII:

The agile team goes through psychodynamics similar to those of the combat unit when it expects “casualties” in the form of forthcoming layoffs. A record-breaking Scrum implementation 12 months down the road is not too meaningful for an employee who suspects he or she might not be with the company in six months. Under such circumstances, you must satisfactorily answer the question on the minds of employees, “What is in this agile rollout for me?!” Agile team dynamics are likely to be jeopardized unless this question is answered.

What is needed under such circumstances is a reconstituted social contract between employers and employees. Without a working social contract, the friction and antagonism can bring down a system. For example, in 1942, the turning-point year of WWII, 833,000 person-days of coal mining were lost due to strikes in the UK coal industry. Even a world war in which the UK was fighting for its life could not compensate for a broken social contract.

They did not do software in 1942 – all they had were Alan Turing‘s code breaking Bombe machines. The core issue – broken social contract – applies however to software development, particularly these days. Scholars such as Correlli Barnett attribute much of the post war decline of Britain to the failure to reconstitute the social contract.


Written by israelgat

July 28, 2009 at 8:35 am

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