As a software engineering leader for hire, my assignments require raising velocity and visibility while reducing the risk of missing milestones and budgets. For me, Agile is the substrate, the base on which software is developed.
I also believe in working hard to distil problems down to their simplest form, making them trivial to understand and adopt. When I enter a new situation, I look for the most painful, urgent problems that must be solved. Using Agile principles, I try to synthesize customized, perfectly appropriate solutions that can be adopted with minimum difficulty.
In my recent work with two companies, I found that estimation was a big problem. At multiple stages of projects, teams made casual and unrealistic estimates. As the work progressed, frequently these estimates proved wrong, breaking both schedules and budgets. …
Most of us are in lockdown these days. I am not a key worker and my consulting practice is paused. I’m in my home office in Twickenham and for the first time in a long time, I have time to write code.
I’ve been itching to code since we moved to the UK from Silicon Valley in 2016. I spent my entire early career as a hands-on software developer, and always kept my coding skills current as I gradually managed larger and larger teams of engineers
Until now, I haven’t had the luxury of time to take a breath and dive deep back into programming, which I’ve loved my entire career. This time my approach is different. No boss, client or deadlines. Just the road ahead to learn whatever I want and invest as much time as necessary. …
Spreadsheet sprinting is an easy and cost-effective way to get started with Agile. Too often, Agile adoption involves learning new terminology, tools and methods. Spreadsheet sprinting bypasses the learning curve and enables immediate focus on priorities, goals and tasks.
In 2017 Agile is state-of-the-art for software product development. When Agile is fully realized, prioritization of work becomes transparent. Stakeholders can review progress in real time. Product managers can identify and resolve blockages. Teams can measure productivity and do a better job of hitting milestones. Design, engineering and testing are linked so efforts are coordinated. Communication improves as silos are broken down and sharing increases. …
When you present slides in meetings, you know it’s difficult to keep audiences engaged and happy. Not surprising because slide presentations are structured, sequential and always stretch at least 30 minutes. Stakeholders are overbooked, rushed and stressed. People want immediate answers without waiting for the final few slides.
Sometimes it’s impossible to keep the audience engaged. About three years ago, I decided to stop trying. Whenever possible, I prefer placemats in favor of slide decks.
The idea for placemats comes from… placemats! Think about Denny’s, In-N-Out Burger or any diner. Placemats tell a story or tempt you to order dessert. You can go through a placemat in any order, at your own pace, learning as you are comfortable. …
Swimlanes provide a good model for focusing efforts in groups trying to reach the Next Key Stage. In my work with startup ventures, I encourage management teams to develop a list of swimlanes. Each swimlane encapsulates effort for driving to the next stage of product development, branding, digital presence, funding, recruiting talent or increasing revenue.
This article is a continuation of my series, “Agile Agile: The Agile adoption of Agile methodologies”. In the series, I am showing how teams can quickly start benefiting from Agile. Transitioning to Agile can be accomplished with minimum disruption and maximum productivity gain. In organizations, Agile methodologies can be used to help product development and can improve to all aspects of growth. …
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a key ingredient of Agile. MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development. Teams can easily sprint with an MVP Spreadsheet using familiar tools and processes.
This is a continuation of my series, “Agile Agile: The Agile adoption of Agile methodologies”. The previous article “Adopting Agile as a Second Language”, focused on evangelizing Agile and getting started with minimum disruption.
Reaching MVP can be the most important milestone for Agile teams in both startups and established organizations. An MVP can be tested with real users. This can justify further product development or reveal required course corrections. …
With my clients the first job is always adopting or improving Agile. My methodology is named, “Agile Agile: The Agile adoption of Agile methodologies”. This piece is about the first steps, winning support and starting to sprint with minimum disruption.
Winning support always requires some evangelism. The prospect of change meets with reluctance. Two common concerns I hear a lot:
“We can’t start engineering until we have a complete spec.”
“We don’t have time to write user stories and attend meetings.”