Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Agile Conferences – Is there a future for them?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Having participated in the Agile Conference scene for the past 5 years, it’s remarkable how things have changed. Last week I went along to the QCon show in London and to be honest was left feeling quite let down. It seems to me that there is a real void of fresh ideas, challenging speak and volatile discussions.  

Maybe a re-factored and faster version of Waterfall is the current acceptable norm, compared to the available hardcore Agile element out there. Friends of mine have said that they will be avoiding the whole conference scene, as there’s only so many ways you can talk about planning boards and story cards without it being repetitive and most of this was probably presented 5yrs ago.

Has Agile reached its peak in terms fresh ideas, or have the conference folk run out of ideas ? Well, I don’t believe it is merely a lack of  ideas……’s the level of interest, attendance, participation of the large corporate. (You can probably guess who.) These big flag waving companies come along and take the ideas from the smaller individual companies and simply generalise the ideas as processes and standards – All of a sudden we have Corporate Agile! 

I’ve taken the baton and have given myself the mission of pushing and pulling the right people into presenting at the Agile Business Conference in October 2009. Should the powers that be at these shows support the corporate invasion,  then I may well organise a conference for Agile people myself and continue with those that care…….. 

Come on, let’s hear your thoughts.

Sprint or Marathon?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I have spoken to many candidates, clients and other ‘agile authorities’ and one point where I find inconsistency is the disparity between the duration of sprints within a project. These sprints seem to range from 1 week to 3 months, and in my opinion 3 months is more of a marathon than a sprint.  I am beginning to wonder if the Agile Manifesto itself needs refactoring.  The principles it laid out seem to have not been disregarded but refactored somewhat and quite rightly so, as one of the key principles is adaptiveness.  This disparity of the length of sprints is just one of many idiosyncrasies that perhaps could be clarified if the Manifesto itself was given a ‘make-over’ to reflect the current trends.  Perhaps this would result in an improved standard of ‘agility’ rather than an ever increasing volume of diluted principles. In my opinion there seems to be a whole host of individuals who could do with an Agile MOT of sorts.  Certification keeps rearing its head, but is that really the way forward?  (Even I, as a humble recruiter, have passed the DSDM Agile Certified Project Leader Exam.) There must be a way of validating projects as Agile, and therefore being able to provide some quantifiable means of assessing people’s real experience rather than their classroom or paper copy knowledge.

Kanban – Simplistic Agile?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Sitting quite a distance from the technical coal face, I hear many views and opinions aimed at many topics. For three years I’ve heard Kanban mentioned in discussion, blogs and conferences, with really little explanation or air time. So I took it upon myself to read 3 articles from well known Kanban authors and form an opinion. Instantly I thought this is just another refactoring of Agile, another play on the same thing, a buzz word in the making! I went back and read through this again and seemingly there are some positive differences to be mentioned and be impressed by. Interestingly enough there was a mention of time boxing, which automatically put’s me into DSDM mode. Maybe this is deliberate, maybe not, but it sure does keep it all conveniently linked to everything, but with a spin. Someone somewhere will one day have a radical new way! 

Is Kanban a revolutionary idea?

No, just a different take on a subject of which has no clear measures, i.e. Agile Fundamentally the differences or positives that I spotted are: 

  • Kanban is not just for the Agile experienced; it is for everyone at all levels (providing you understand the three levels of Kanban)
  • Kanban can be described as focussing on improving, rather than Scrum focussing on being Agile which may lead to improvement.
  • Too many people concentrate on being Agile (they don’t really understand Agile in most cases), where Kanban takes the hot air away and strips the process back to the bones.
  • Kanban allows for iterations to be delivered for what they are in terms of time, not just being put into a week because everyone works on a 1 week iteration.
  • Kanban planning works on a one piece flow, rather than the Agile grouped batches. ie WIP
  • Priority given to the importance of each card, thus the most important card gets delivered first.
  • Task estimates are taken away – they just get delivered.
  • Flexible build and release, again time constraintless.
  • There is commitment to deliver at an agreed output, ie. Rate of stories/release, rather than Velocity

Arguably Kanban makes Agile even more lightweight as a method, allows freedom to deliver alongside freedom to develop. So often new ideas come along that complicate or simplify process or delivering product.
Personally I think that if we lived in the ideal world, this would be a natural progression to the modern day Agile, but reality tells me that extreme Agile is still very unique and niche and the true worth of Kanban will only affect the small minority. It’s taken many years to get the world Agile, but with rife Waterfall greyness still dominating our world, Kanban will be a one hit wonder. 

I hope I’m wrong!

Clean Code by Bob Martin

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

For the last few weeks I have been hearing a wonderful phrase that I first heard a few years ago – “Software Craftsman”.  A new phrase has now become the new buzz – “Clean Code”.  Both of theses phrases are encapsulated in a book by Bob Martin.


Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Hello Everyone

I promise I have not lost my Agile Voice, I’ve just been really busy reading.

So the first thing to say is that myself and the team will be at QCon on March 11-13

Fancy meeting up to say hello?

Agile Development Principles

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

One of my fellow Agile Bloggers – Kelly Waters has posted this great piece on the Agile Development Principles.

10 Key Principles of Agile Software Development

Agile Software Development is one of the big buzzwords of the software development industry. But what exactly is it? Agile Development is a different way of managing software development projects. 10 Key Principles, and how Agile Development fundamentally differs from a more traditional Waterfall approach to software development, are as follows:

1. Active user involvement is imperative
2. The team must be empowered to make decisions
3. Requirements evolve but the timescale is fixed
4. Capture requirements at a high level; lightweight & visual
5. Develop small, incremental releases and iterate
6. Focus on frequent delivery of products
7. Complete each feature before moving on to the next
8. Apply the 80/20 rule
9. Testing is integrated throughout the project lifecycle – test early and often
10. A collaborative & cooperative approach between all stakeholders is essential 

Maybe this is the type of thinking which will lead us onwards from the Agile Manifesto ? Please let me know your thoughts. 

Agile Business Analyst, What is this role?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

One of the most awkward roles that I come across on a daily basis is that of an Agile Business Analyst. So often people believe that this is simply a Business Analyst who has experienced Agile.

Well, Shane Hastie has posted a really good article on this subject.

Click on the link below and it might clear some of the confusion.

Software Craftmanship – Is this for you?

Monday, January 5th, 2009

On the Jason Gorman theme today.

Jason has put together this event at the BBC.


Software Craftmanship 2009 – BBC Media Village, London – February 26th

It’s refreshing to see these smaller events, with new individuals contributing and running them. I will certainly be trying to attend to support the event.

New Year Reading…..Well worth a look!

Monday, January 5th, 2009

My mate Jason Gorman recommended a collection of books by Patrick Lencioni.  All I can say is that if your team or business has leadership issues, read this.



I am about to start reading the next book in the series – Death by Meeting.

I’m certainly into my books at the moment so if you can recommend any yourself that would be great.

May the Agile Force be with you….

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Maybe that’s what Luke Skywalker would have said if he’d been an Agile Specialist.

Seriously, 2009 could be a great year for the serious Agile people out there.

Everyone is talking about money, doom and gloom yet Agile could be the economic saviour for IT.  Move over Mr Brown, the Agile Community could show you a thing or two.

It is my first day back in the hot seat and already roles are coming in.

Back Soon!