No Boring Subjects

When you have intellectual skin in the game even “boring topics” become interesting. I have noticed repeatedly over my life that the more personal time I invest in a subject the less boring the subject becomes, if only to me. Of course, I need to make sure I remember this when I start sharing the subject with others. In my first job as a computer engineer on a large team I was assigned the task of source code control, being responsible for how the code all of my fellow programmers […]

Apples Don’t Fall Up – Fundamental Principles

What are the fundamental principles guiding what we are doing? Here is the thing, apples don’t fall up. If I walk into your office and you begin to tell me how, in your business, you make money “because apples fall up” then I know, really fast, we have a problem. It was not rocket science to diagnose your problem. The problem hits me on the head like an apple falling from a tree. BONK. Here is the rub. If you believe “apples fall up” it is almost impossible for me […]

Eliminate Slogans if…

I once visited a company that displayed slogans all over the place written by the SVP in the software delivery group. One of them said something akin to, “We must get rid of the notion that for quality to increase then productivity must decrease.” It is a great example of horrible management. Every time I saw them I was reminded of this principle from W. Edwards Deming: “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk […]

Geocentric Agile

What is Geocentric Agile? To almost everyone though all of human history it has been reasonable to see the universe in the following way: The Earth is standing still The Earth is the center of the universe The Sun goes around the Earth in a circle The Moon goes around the Earth in a circle The Stars move around the Earth in many different circles Planets move around the Earth in strange circular ways This model of the universe feels right and natural to almost everyone. It is a good […]

Short Cycle Times

Why are short cycle times important? If we could pick only one metric to rule them all it would be cycle time. That is, how long does it take to get something done and learn something important? Keurig Green Mountain Inc. made a fortune with its coffee and hot drink making machines. They thought it would be profitable to expand into cold drinks. So, in September of 2015 they announced their ‘Kold’ soda machine maker for the home kitchen. What are the cycle times involved in releasing a new product […]

First Principles and Elon Musk

What are first principles and why are they important? I recently heard an executive make an argument as to why a software initiative’s budget might be way off. The company had planned to spend 15 million and this executive was making an argument as to why it may cost more than 150 million dollars. He was giving an argument from analogy. Analogous estimation is a time honored tradition in human activities. It frequently works. For example, if “this project” is much like “that project” it may be legitimate to assume […]

The Other Side of Agile: Ceremonial Development

I spotted this post today by Christian Toivola on “The Other Side of Agile: Ceremonial Development.” I am happy to find anyone encouraging us to discover, grow, inspect, and adapt our ceremonies. Give his piece a read here: I use as a key ceremonial diagnostic question, “Do you feel good about attending this ceremony?” or “Did the ceremony leave you with positive emotional energy.” If the answer was “No” it may well be time to do a retrospective on the ceremony and see if the right people are attending, […]

Backlog – My Kingdom for a Decent Backlog

Do you know how to create a decent backlog? I recently spent a few weeks advising a large agile program on how to deliver more successfully. One of the issues we observed I thought it was worth mentioning here, it is common to every struggling agile project we review: They didn’t know how to build a decent backlog. The program we were reviewing was large. But, they had correctly broken the work into multiple independent work-streams and independent backlogs. The problem was, NONE OF THE BACKLOGS WERE GOOD. As we […]

Unleashing Agility With a Positive ROI

Every large scale Agile transformation we’ve visited flounders and under performs. Why? When we examine root causes it is always because 98% of the executives and managers believe they can implement an Agile program without understanding what Agile is. But Agile is about management thinking differently. Management can successfully implement many changes without understanding them—perhaps even most changes. But not changes which require management to THINK DIFFERENTLY. Large organizations fail to achieve most of the benefit enterprise agility offers because they dramatically underestimate the need to educate, grow, and win […]

How Many Agile Coaches Do I Need?

Do you even need agile coaches at all? One of the best Agile coaches I know and I think alike on this important point, which makes me think I may even be right about it. The point is how to answer the question, “How many Agile coaches do we need?” We say, “Very few, the fewer the better.” In the context of hundreds of teams and thousands of programmers, “You need 5 to 7, any more is too much.” You have one team? “You need one outside expert part-time.” We […]