My #Agile Breakup

So it has been 11 months now since I’ve seen Agile. How has it been? To be honest, I haven’t missed her. I really haven’t. What has been made clear is what Agile is and what she isn’t.

First Date

I guess Agile and I started dating in 2006. We both were interested in each other and then I was able to arrange for Yves Hanoulle to be the keynote at the Software Development and Evolution Conference I was helping to organize in 2011. Yves had a great presentation on the Agile Mindset that was brilliant. I must admit I only realized how brilliant in the last few months. I think I did what many people have done when they encounter an attractive person coming out of a bad relationship. I moved too fast and fell too hard after being with Waterfall for too long.

The Agile I met was a collection of interesting, valuable methods. There was the concept of the Agile Mindset that Yves and others were promoting with wisdom. But I fell into the same trap as many others. I was going to propose to Agile and she would be the only methodology for me. All projects would be Agile. If clients didn’t like my new girlfriend, then they could go elsewhere.

Agile was a Methodology. I was sure of it. I would exclude using all other methodologies while Agile and I were serious. I would create an Agile Methodology by combining methods and practices. I would read and author Agile papers and presentations where we routinely challenged and chastised each other for not being ‘Agile enough’. I looked for the Agile complement for all waterfall or traditional methods. No matter the project, I promoted the Agile method.

For those of you keeping score at home, the PMBOK isn’t a methodology as well. Similar to Agile, it is a listing of processes, procedures, and knowledge that can be applied. But it is not prescriptive and does not provide governance on how to apply the methods and practices. Many companies take the PMBOK components and create their own methodology from it though.

But what about Scrum you ask? I’d say Scrum is an incomplete methodology. Although it does provide a methodology for the iterations on a project, it does lack guidance and governance in relations to the business case and pre-project intake process. Scrum also lacks guidance for the larger portfolio and enterprise governance concerns.

My Agile Mindset

My mistake was trying to take a collection of methods and assume a methodology exists. A larger mistake was then losing my Agile Mindset of constantly questioning the Agile methodology for value. That is my biggest complaint about Agile now. Many proponents seem to have lost the Agile Mindset of constantly questioning the best method to use on each project. Everyone is just promoting more and more ‘Agile’ methods without confirming that the method returns the most value for the clients. See the No Estimates discussion for this. To blindly promote no estimates for all clients does not represent an Agile Mindset.

I was going to say I’m just as Agile now and I was before, but that statement shows a non-Agile mindset – Agile is not a methodology to achieve. Let’s just say, I feel my projects achieve the maximum amount of value for client by using the Prince2 Methodology using Agile methods and practices were appropriate. Everyone I’ve worked with sees the value in Agile methods and are eager to work with them. The concept that you have to buy the entire Agile Methodology to use an Agile practice is misguided.

I mention Prince2 because that is what we use at the University of Manitoba. You could replace it with whatever you use at your company and then search where you could use Agile methods to return more value. The more I use Prince2, the most I think it is one of the best methodologies I have used though. Highly recommended.

Use an Agile Mindset, Agile isn’t about the Methodology it is about getting better little by little.

 

#SDEC12 Conference Review #Agile

Well another Software Development and Evolution conference has come and gone. (You’ve always wondered what SDEC stood for didn’t you?) It was a lot of work and effort to make it all happen, but in the end it was very enjoyable. I learned an immense amount and cant’t wait until next year.

My Highlights

      • The Joe Justice/Wikispeed Keynote on day 1 was entertaining and inspiring. If you aren’t familiar with the Joe Justice and Wikispeed story, I highly recommend you doing a search on YouTube or Google. Inspirational stuff on what can be accomplished when you ask why not? WikiSpeed
      • The Luke Hohmann/Innovation Games keynote on day 2 was energizing. I have been a fan of Innovation Games for a long time and it was energizing to hear Luke speak and provide the context on how and why Innovation Games are successful. InnovationGames
      • Adam Yuret @AdamYuret brought Lean Coffee to SDEC12. It was a highlight of mine to attend his session on Lean Coffee and learn how we can have our own Lean Coffee discussions. Although I must admit, I would prefer an afternoon coffee instead of an early morning one.
      • Chris Dagenais @MDChris had a couple of engaging and informative sessions on team building and peer feedback. Great sessions and audience was very engaged and interactive.
      • Lightning Talks made their first appearance at SDEC and were very well attended. There were great talks and tons of practical information compressed in 5 minute chunks.
      • Best presentation I attended was presented by Mark Kulchycki and Alyson Teterenko of Manitoba Hydro International. It was a real life tale from the trenches on how their team evolved and incorporated Agile principles into their PSCAD product development team. Awesome presentation, pragmatic approaches that everyone can use.
      • My personal highlight of the conference was the Innovation Games workshop with Luke Hohmann after the conference. It was an excellent session where Luke not only covered the Innovation Games themselves, but also the science and psychology of the games and the art of facilitation. Probably learned more in one day than I have for a long time.
      • I loved presenting my Agile Data Warehouse talk. I’m hopeful that I can have a follow-up presentation at SDEC13 that illustrates more how we used Innovation Games and show the actual models that were created.
      • It was great being able to just talk and share with everyone at the conference on what worked for them and what people are still struggling with.

Summary

It was a great conference with over 200 attendees. This was a new record for SDEC and caused us to be flexible to modify the lunch process for Day 2 to be more efficient. 🙂

I can’t wait for next year. We are gathering the feedback forms and listening to our Advisory council to assure the content and structure is even better next year! Thanks for your support and see you at SDEC13!

#openspaces come to #SDEC11

SDEC11 is fast approaching in a week and a half. It is all set to kick off on October 17th thru 19th. Just went you thought we could not possibly add anything more to this upcoming conference, we have another announcement.

Open Spaces

SDEC11 will hold two open spaces sessions on both October 17th and 18th after the conclusion of the day’s presentations. The sessions are scheduled to last for an hour from 4:30-5:30, but that time can be flexible based upon interest. Participants will be encouraged to submit their ideas for topics throughout the day and we will together choose the most popular topics for discussion. Everyone will be encouraged to stay for discussions, and in particular most, if not all, of the speakers will be available for these sessions. The speakers bring a wealth of experience and expertise that can be shared in these sessions. For example:

  • Yves Hanoulle – Agile and Coaching
  • Gerry Kirk – Innovation Games and Agile
  • Paul LaBerge – HTML5 and Mango
  • Greg Meredith – Scala and Functional Programming
  • Cory Fowler – Azure
  • Steve Rogalsky – Agile and User Story Mapping
  • Terry Bunio – Agile Project Management
  • David Alpert – User Experience and User Design
  • Sean Van Tyne – User Experience
  • Amir Barylko – .NET Design Patterns & Ruby
  • James Chambers – .NET
  • Marc Jeanson, Burke Libbey, and Stefan Penner – Ruby
  • and many others!

So outside of presentations you will be able to ask questions and get answers from other attendees and presenters at SDEC11!

 

#SDEC11 #Microsoft all day session announced! #HTML5 #Mango

SDEC11 has some exciting news. We are happy to announce that we have  added a Microsoft all day session on day 2. This session will be a hands on workshop/dojo on HTML5, Mango, and Mobile Development Hackathon.

The contents of the session are:

An Introduction to HTML5 Awesomeness

In this session, you’ll learn how to take advantage of HTML5 today and into the future! You’ll also see what’s possible with HTML5, enabling rich user experiences across platforms without the need for plugins. You’ll also discover the tools that are available to help you build HTML5 web applications and sites. Come join us for an action-packed session of HTML5 awesomeness!

A Lap Around Mango

In this session, we will provide an overview of some of the hot, new features found in the Windows Phone Mango release and how you can use them in your Mango apps. Features such as taking advantage of multitasking and background agents, live tiles, augmented reality with the camera, use of the gyroscope API, socket support, local database support and many others will be discussed. By the end of this session, you will have the base knowledge of the Mango development process and how to leverage its features within your apps. After this session is done, you will be able to will be able to use the time to code your own apps using while the presenter remains present to answer questions.

Windows Phone and Internet Explorer Hackathon

The afternoon of the workshop will focus on hands-on coding and development of phone and web applications for Windows Phone and Internet Explorer. Apply what you’ve learned through the morning content, and the other great sessions at SDEC, while taking advantage of in-person technical support from technology experts!

This session is included in the conference registration!

To give people time to review this content and sign up we have extended the early bird for the conference until September 15th!

#Agile Top 9 MVPs

Recently there has been a lot of articles promoting the top Agile books to read:

Top Agile Book 2011

And there was the previous post of the top 200 Agile Bloggers

Top 200 Agile Blogs

All of these lists are great, but I wanted to publish a bit of a different list. I’ve called this list the Agile Top 9 MVPs. In this case MVP stands for Most Valuable Promoter of Agile Ideas. I follow a lot of people on Twitter and read their blogs, but there are a small number of people who consistently expose me to new ideas and make me think. For this list I’ve excluded the Web sites that gather other people’s entries and send out newsletters but don’t typically author any articles themselves. (but the line is a bit blurry I must admit)

This list was compiled over the last 6 months so it only reflects recent activity. That may be why leaders like Mike Cohn and Luke Hohmann may not appear on this list. Their promoting and introducing of many of the new ideas happened prior to the last six months.

Agile Top 9 MVPs (in no particular order)

Author

Website

Mike Cottmeyer

www.leadingagile.com

Laura Brandenburg

www.bridging-the-gap.com

David j Bland

www.scrumology.net

Alan Shalloway

www.netobjectives.com

Jim Highsmith

www.jimhighsmith.com/

James Shore

jamesshore.com/

Lyssa Adkins

www.coachingagileteams.com/

Esther Derby

www.estherderby.com/

Scott Ambler

www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/ambler

The Rationale

So how did I compose this list? It was simply the people who time and time again over Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Blogs, and comments expose me to new ideas and make me think. They also have a good ratio of tweets that point me to new ideas. It is great to see tweets from these 9 as they usually point you to a great article or start a good discussion on a topic. I also listed people whom I feel are balanced and diverse in their opinions. They are not ones to quickly jump on a bandwagon or also not consider a new idea. They are open to new ideas, not married to old ones, and are very well-balanced and measured in their opinions.

I have to mention a couple of my absolute favourites recently:

1) Laura Brandenburg’s Blog on topics of interest to Business Analysts is wonderful. Although I am not a Business Analyst, I find excellent information and a very lively discussion board.

2) Allan Shalloway’s Tweets and articles are excellent and he is one of the few to give Lean the attention it deserves.

3) David Bland’s Tweets are awesome and very informing. Excellent insight.

4) Esther Derby has a great diversity of opinions and articles.

5) Scott Ambler. I may not always agree with Scott initially, but more times than not, I end up learning something every single time I read some article of his…

Honourable Mentions

Although, I said I would not mention sites that comprise articles from other primarily, I can’t do it. InfoQ and AgileScout are great sources of information as I believe I read them almost daily and see tweets every day directing me to great new ideas…

Why only 9? Why for Bobby Hull of course!

#SDEC11 has a full line up! #winnipeg #agile

The Software Development and Evolution Conference schedule for October 17th-19th, 2011 now has a full line up of presenters.

In addition to the two keynotes of Yves Hanoulle (List on the top 25 Agile minds to follow on Twitter) and John Weigelt (National Technology Officer from Microsoft Canada), we have the following  breakdown of the 26 presenters:

  • 17 local speakers from the Winnipeg area
  • 6 speakers from across Canada
  • 2 speakers from the United States
  • 1 speaker from Europe

You can find information on the previously announced speakers on the speaker page on the SDEC website. Stay tuned for upcoming information on more speakers and their presentation topics.