Are We There Yet?

A friend of mine was once put in charge of the Innovation group at the company where we worked.  Whenever we would talk about the state of Innovation, he always seemed preoccupied with creating an “innovation organization”.  But the conversation never seemed to get far beyond that point.
Continue reading “Are We There Yet?”

Accentuate the Negative?

The instant message app chimed on my desktop. “How confident are you that we won’t find any more defects in testing?”, the department head asked. I glanced over at the task board, at the lone sticky note sitting in the “In Progress” section: “Architecture Review”, it read. I popped open the chat window, and responded, “100% sure. We are done with testing.” I watched the window for a moment as the message app informed me they were typing their reply. “Okay. Because I’m about to go report that to the senior managers.” “No problem,” I typed back. “See you at the demo, tomorrow.” Continue reading “Accentuate the Negative?”

Give a Boy a Hammer…

“If you give a boy a hammer, he will suddenly find that everything looks like a nail.”

In some ways, this is how Agile is being applied in the industry today. It doesn’t matter what problem you need to solve, hit that nail with a Hammer. You want to get better predictability? Hammer. Quicker time to market? Hammer. You want to improve employee morale? Hammer. Continue reading “Give a Boy a Hammer…”

Agile vs. Waterfall – Improved Performance is NOT Guaranteed

I am frequently asked to give a brief overview of Scrum to people who are unfamiliar with Agile concepts. In the course of giving those lessons, I almost always see a look of shock at the almost cavalier way that we agilists claim that Agile methods will give a better result than traditional methods. I like the look of shock. It shows that they’re paying attention. Continue reading “Agile vs. Waterfall – Improved Performance is NOT Guaranteed”

On Tweaking Estimates

As Product Owner for the project, I get to field a lot of interesting questions. I woke up this morning to the following question from one of my teams:

Hello Mike,

In our current sprint, we have planned 8.5 user story points. But after task breakdown we can see for a couple of user stories, actual story points differ from the estimated story points. What is the correct course of action in this case? Do we need to update product backlog for revised user story points? Then we can say the team is working towards achieving 11.5 user story points! Also, since our [project gate commitment] is nearing, should we reexamine the estimates in the product backlog, and revise them for the remaining user stories?

Continue reading “On Tweaking Estimates”

Sailing Metaphor for Agile

When I was in high school, my friend Scott and I took his father’s sailboat out on the lake where our families spent summer vacation.  We had each been sailing numerous times; always as crew, never at the helm.  We both knew the lingo; “Come about” and “Pull that jib in tighter!”.  I had taken a boat safety course, so I knew all about life jackets and right-of-way.  There was even a page in the safety manual that talked about sailboats and gave a handy chart for the points of sail.  We were set for adventure! Continue reading “Sailing Metaphor for Agile”

The Culture of Agile Adoption

As a self-proclaimed Agile Evangelist (Agilist), I am keenly interested in the process of taking an organization from a traditional project management base, into a truly agile model.  There are a variety of factors that come into play that make the transition from traditional to agile more of a challenge than it first appears. Continue reading “The Culture of Agile Adoption”