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Agile Roots, Agile Operations, & Agile Clouds, Agile Executive Podcast 003

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To listen to this podcast, download the podcast directly, subscribe to the blog/podcast feed in iTunes (or whatever), or click play below to hear it:

After having some coffee here in Austin, Israel Gat and I braved the Texas heat a little while longer to record a conversation about the recent Agile Roots conference, how Agile has spread in recent years, and some of the potentials that cloud computing plus Agile might bring.

We go over the Agile Roots conference that Israel was currently at: one of the themes, Israel says, was a sort of retrospective on the Agile Manifesto (put out in 2001). Also, as Israel points out many times, there was a good mix of people that made the “hallwaycon” enjoyable. Part of this, it seems was due to the somewhat unconference-y feel of the event: while it had a formalized agenda, there was room for less structured, unconference-style sessions and discussions.

Based on this, I then ask Israel to summarize what his and other’s people take was on where Agile is today. In my words, it seems like Agile thinking has, largely, gone main-stream. In fact, as I chime in, large corporate development tool vendors like Microsoft with VisualStudio and IBM with the Rational line are bringing in and using significant Agile principals and practices.

Next, we get into the “Agile Operations” conversation folks from Reductive Labs have been having of late. Esp. when cloud computing technologies (like virtualization, automation, and SaaS-think) are brought into the operations side of the house, Agile principals seem especially well positioned to take advantage of cloud technologies. This gets us into a discussion of how cloud delivered software (SaaS, pretty much) might help free up some time and resources in the traditional software delivery process, primarily, by not having to support many different versions, but also (some what paradoxically to that) allowing bette customizations per customer.

From here, I lay out the theory that with cloud computing, there seems to be some efficiency gains that make it possible for smaller teams to develop and sell software instead of having to hook-up with larger software companies to get efficiencies of scale. While this discussion, as Israel gets to, has been happening a lot in the startup world (startups need less capital up-front to buy hardware and such, and thus, need less funding), it hasn’t been reflected on much in the plain old ISV world. Israel lays out an interesting “out source (most) everything” model for software companies.

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Written by Coté

June 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

Posted in Podcasts

Dean Leffingwell – Agile Executive Podcast 002

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To listen to this podcast, download the podcast directly, subscribe to the blog/podcast feed in iTunes (or whatever), or click play below to hear it:

In this Agile Executive podcast, I talk with Dean Leffingwell. We start out going over Dean’s background both in the software and Agile world (check out his bio for more).

Since Dean worked at Rational for some time (after his company was acquired by Rational, Requisite, makers of RequisitePro), I ask Dean the broad question, what was up with RUP? That is, what went wrong there? In retrospect, it seemed like a flexible enough process, but it got applied as One Big Honking Thing, as The Poster, if you will.

Pulling from Dean’s work at, as his book would put it, Scaling Agile, I ask Dean how large companies go about applying Agile to, large, existing code-bases, like version 10 of a product. Put another way, how does Agile apply when you’re dealing with legacy code. His answer is the usual, crisp and pragmatic Agile approach, “let’s worry about the new code” and then move on to the old stuff when we have time. The other side of that comment is interesting as well: the old code “works” already, so try not to mess with it. At the time, I should have asked him how to deal with developers endless desire to refactor the code, which buts up against the “let sleeping dogs lie,” as it were.

Connected to this, I ask Dean to tell us what the “enterprise” in “enterprise Agile” means. We also discuss what Agile implementations seem to fit in enterprise situations. My perpetual questions here is: how do you fit in product management, sales, marketing, training, support and all that? Dean says that the strength of the Project Office (or the “PMO”) is the lynch pin here. We also get into using a sort of Facade approach to reporting and interfacing with the organization in the old ways while changing to Agile in-flight.

Also, touching on my interest in IT Management and Dean’s experience running a SaaS-y company with Agile, I ask Dean what he’s seeing in the way of “Agile Ops.” Dean points out that while “Agile” as developers know it doesn’t have big mind-share in operations, those folks tend to have very similar structure and goals to their process: quickly running, doing small things, and tracking all that.

Finally, we close out with the never-ending question when it comes to Agile Leadership, how do you get the organization to want to do it? As always, the approach is to use small successes to establishing credibly early on and then snow-ball those successes into larger ones.

Written by Coté

May 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

Posted in Podcasts

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Clarke Ching – Agile Executive Podcast 001

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To listen to this podcast, download the podcast directly, subscribe to the blog/podcast feed in iTunes (or whatever), or click play below to hear it:

Kicking off our Agile Executive podcast series, I talk with Clarke Ching. We start out discussing two of Clarke’s books Rocks Into Gold and a longer version he’s working on. We then discuss the relation of Goldratt’s The Goal.

I ask Clarke to talk to his point that breaking things into smaller chunks end ups costing less. He says:

  • In bigger projects (vs. smaller ones), we end up building more low-priority things, thus “wasting” time
  • With a focus on delivering small chunks that work we get higher quality, rather then wiring up lower quality stuff

After this, I ask Clarke how he’s sorted out the boot-strapping problem of getting Agile started in organizations. He recommends:

  • The Weetabix Sell – selling the benefits, not the ingredients or “process”
  • Set expectations that it’s going to be hard work
  • find quick wins, preferably “without doing anything”

Finally, I ask Clarke to give us a report on the Agile scene across the pond, which he does nicely.

Written by Coté

April 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Podcasts

Podcast in Agile Thinkers

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Click here for my podcast in Agile Thinkers. Following are a few words from Clarke Ching‘s introduction to the podcast:
I’ve just spent a fascinating hour talking with Agile Executive Israel Gat.  Click here to download the mp3 podcast where you’ll hear about what Israel is up to now, the hugely impressive agile transformation at BMC (we’re talking >1000 engineers), what’s going on in the agile market place, amongst other equally interesting things.

Written by israelgat

March 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm