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Posts Tagged ‘Agile Roots Conference

Technical Debt at Cutter

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No, this post is not about technical debt we identified in the software systems used by the Cutter Consortium to drive numerous publications, events and engagements. Rather, it is about various activities carried out at Cutter to enhance the state of the art and make the know-how available to a broad spectrum of IT professionals who can use technical debt engagements to pursue technical and business opportunities.

The recently announced Cutter Technical Debt Assessment and Valuation service is quite unique IMHO:

  1. It is rooted in Agile principles and theory but applicable to any software method.
  2. It combines the passion, empowerment and collaboration of Agile with the rigor of quantified performance measures, process control techniques and strategic portfolio management.
  3. It is focused on enlightened governance through three simple metrics: net present value, cost and technical debt.

Here are some details on our current technical debt activities:

  1. John Heintz joined the Cutter Consortium and will be devoting a significant part of his time to technical debt work. I was privileged and honored to collaborate with colleagues Ken Collier, Jonathon Golden and Chris Sterling in various technical debt engagements. I can’t wait to work with them, John and other Cutter consultants on forthcoming engagements.
  2. John and I will be jointly presenting on the subject Toxic Code in the Agile Roots conference next week. In this presentation we will demonstrate how the hard lesson learned during the sub-prime loans crisis apply to software development. For example, we will be discussing development on margin…
  3. My Executive Report entitled Revolution in Software: Using Technical Debt Techniques to Govern the Software Development Process will be sent to Cutter clients in the late June/early July time-frame. I don’t think I had ever worked so hard on a paper. The best part is it was labor of love….
  4. The main exercise in my Agile 2010 workshop How We Do Things Around Here in Order to Succeed is about applying Agile governance through technical debt techniques across organizations and cultures. Expect a lot of fun in this exercise no matter what your corporate culture might be – Control, Competence, Cultivation or Collaboration.
  5. John and I will be doing a Cutter webinar on Reining in Technical Debt on Thursday, August 19 at 12 noon EDT. Click here for details.
  6. A Cutter IT Journal (CITJ) on the subject of technical debt will be published in the September-October time-frame. I am the guest editor for this issue of the CITJ. We have nine great contributors who will examine technical debt from just about every possible perspective. I doubt that we have the ‘real estate’ for additional contributions, but do drop me a note if you have intriguing ideas about technical debt. I will do my best to incorporate your thoughts with proper attribution in my editorial preamble for this issue of the CITJ.
  7. Jim Highsmith and I will jointly deliver a seminar entitled Technical Debt Assessment: The Science of Software Development Governance in the forthcoming Cutter Summit. This is really a wonderful ‘closing of the loop’ for me: my interest in technical debt was triggered by Jim’s presentation How to Be an Agile Leader in the Agile 2006 conference.

Standing back to reflect on where we are with respect to technical debt at Cutter, I see a lot of things coming nicely together: Agile, technical debt, governance, risk management, devops, etc. I am not certain where the confluence of all these threads, and possibly others, might lead us. However, I already enjoy the adrenaline rush this confluence evokes in me…

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The Mojo of Innovation Games

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This post is a shameless plug for Innovation Games. Shameless that it might be, it is grounded in the hands-on experience I acquired as a participant in Luke Hohmann’s workshop on the subject last week. Colleagues Ken Collier, Alan Shalloway and Michele Sliger took the workshop together with me.

While Innovation Games had been conceived, implemented and published by Luke more than 4 years ago, the contemporary on-line implementation breaks new grounds in three important ways:

  1. It ties in ideation, requirements management and software project management in a seamless fashion. (Stay tuned for exciting announcements on the subject in a couple of months).
  2. It gets over the “too much data” barrier of the paper-based version of the game. Data capture is largely automated now. Data analysis tools are forthcoming.
  3. It gets over the “across the pond” obstacle. You can play Innovation Games to your heart’s content no matter how geographically dispersed your teams might be.

Not bad for three guys and a dog. Actually, I don’t even know whether they can afford a dog. These guys operate on passion, craftsmanship and mojo…

Postscript: If you know Luke, you already know what I mean by “the Luke mojo.” If you don’t, may I suggest you get to know him. A convenient opportunity might be the forthcoming Agile Roots 2010 conference – the organizers are speaking with Luke about delivering a keynote presentation literally as I write this post.

OpsCamp Through an Internet-scale Lens

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OpsCamp Austin 2010

Like Agile Roots in Salt Lake City in June 2009, OpsCamp in Austin last week demonstrated how powerful grass roots conferences can be. We might not have had big names on the roster, but we sure had a productive dialog on the tricky issues lurking in the cusp between software development and IT operations in Cloud environments.

The conference has been amply covered by Michael Cote, John Willis, Mark Hinkle, and Damon Edwards (to name a few). This post restricts itself to commenting on one fundamental aspect of the cloud which IMHO does not get the attention it deserves. It might be implied in various discourses on the subject, but I believe it needs to be called out as a fundamental assumption for just about anything  and everything one might consider doing with respect to the cloud. I am referring to economies of scale.

As pointed out in a forthcoming book on Cloud Computing by colleague and friend Annie Shum, the cloud phenomenon is fundamentally driven by substantial economies of scale in very large data centers. The operational costs of running such data centers are close to an order of magnitude lower than these prevailing in small and mid-sized data centers. User benefits are primarily derived from these compelling economies of scale.

I will be asking Annie to write a detailed guest post on the subject for readers of The Agile Executive. Until her post is published here, I would recommend we primarily consider the Cloud as a phenomenon that only becomes meaningful at scale. In particular, Private Clouds are not likely to yield Internet-scale efficiencies. Folks who regard their company’s conventional data center as a private cloud might be missing up on the ‘secret sauce’ of cloud computing.

The various agile system administration schemes discussed at the Austin OpsCamp are essential to attaining the requisite economies of scale in cloud services. Watch out for follow-on OpsCamps in other cities for developments to come in this all important space.

Running for the Agile Alliance Board

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I am running for the Agile Alliance board. Here is my position statement:

Agile to me is about finding my voice. For most of my professional career I was entrusted with developing and bringing to market large scale enterprise software systems. Fulfilling and rewarding that so doing was, rarely had I experienced the great excitement that comes from the pursuit of a bigger purpose. Over the past few years Agile has been giving me this extra gratification. I feel privileged and fortunate to participate in and contribute to a movement that has the potential to transform quite a few industries.

My voice has been expressed in various speaking engagements, research notes by the Cutter Consortium, blog posts in The Agile Executive, and tweets under the handle agile_exec. I am primarily concerned with elevating Agile to the enterprise level, making certain Agile “islands” scale up, scale out and scale downstream. Moreover, I push toward devising business models that utilize the power of Agile instead of shoe horning Agile methods to fit arcane business designs.

As an Agile Alliance board member, I will focus on mainstreaming Agile methods with an eye toward making a significant economic impact. I share the concern Diana Larsen expressed in a recent Agile Roots panel: Agile as a term has crossed the chasm, but Agile as a method might not. The main obstacle IMHO is that our business fabric has not caught up with Agile methods. Software capitalization and Agile contracts are two good examples of areas which are not yet where they need to be. I plan to address both, and then some, if I get elected.

If we as a movement succeed in making Agile cross the chasm, the economics of software, of products in which software is embedded and of business processes that utilize software could change dramatically. As software is becoming pervasive, Agile software has the potential to become a low cost input in our economy. The macro-economic effect of this descending cost of software could be as powerful as that of the prosperity ultra cheap oil (as energy source) produced during the period 1908-1971. I am committed to doing my bit toward this worthy goal through the Agile Alliance.

Written by israelgat

July 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Request for Input

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I will be speaking in the forthcoming Agile Roots Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The motto for the conference is Rooted in the past. Growing towards the Future. To properly express this motto in my presentation, I would like to embed a broad spectrum of threads and opinions from as many Agilists as possible. Any suggestions made by readers of this blog will be much appreciated.

Written by israelgat

March 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Events

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