Agile is not a proper noun. Agile is not a person, place, or thing. You do not do agile. You are agile.
What Is It?
My simple explanation of agile is: You have a vision of what you want to accomplish and the ability to make decisions. Assemble a group of smart, dedicated, and capable people to start figuring out how to do it and validate your assumptions and outputs along the way.
It’s as simple as that. That is agility. The understanding and acceptance that you will not know everything in advance but as long as you have a team of capable people with a set of top level goals and a single voice that can make decisions, you’ll figured out the rest as you go.
But What About Enterprise?!?!
When you throw the word “enterprise” in the mix, everyone loses their mind. “What about portfolio management?” “What about the PMO?” “How much will this cost?”. “We need a 6 month roadmap!” “WE NEED KPIs!!!”
The basic tenet of agility does not care about any of those questions. That’s all corporate generated noise and a relics from the contractor control model days from yesteryear. The primary goal is to add value as quick as possible and to incorporate learnings from fast feedback cycles.
The enterprise has caused all of their own problems and has institutionalized practices that make themselves slow. This short video Coordination Chaos does a great job illustrating how we inventively get ourselves into that mess.
Keep Calm, Agile On
There are no magic bullets. All you can do is recognize what the top level goals of being agile are ask yourself “am what I doing consistent with agility?”. If the answer is no, rethink your approach. If you continue to take small steps in the right direction, you’ll eventually get there.
When organizations mandate “code coverage” numbers, like 95%, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Just because a line of code has been touched during testing, doesn’t mean it’s been tested; you’re only fooling yourself. Every time I tell someone the last product I created had 93% test coverage, they say “wow, that’s great!”. Then my follow up statement is “Yeah, it sounds great, but bugs still crept into covered areas”.
Continue reading “Code Coverage vs Test Coverage”
I once made a statement about closing out project management tickets that went something like “The actual hours a story / task took are the only metrics that matter”. At the time, we had a ton hoops to jump through to close a story out due to our tooling choices. We ignored most of them, but the actual hours field was something I told the team I valued. My thinking at the time was this would definitively show us if we’re coming up with accurate estimates and if we missed our estimates, where did we spend that time. This would give us solid data points to use across sprints and act as a spring board for future planning sessions. In reality it ends up being fruitless and does little to build a better team.
I generally follow Scrum when leading agile teams, but I’m not prescriptive about it in any way. “Whatever works for the team” is another sound byte you’ll routinely hear me say and along those lines is where I had my epiphany. Just like being agile is about enabling the team, estimation and time in Scrum is all about the sprint. “How many stories can get done this sprint” is the real question around how long something will take. That’s it. It’s a scheduling exercise to maximize effective use of fixed time. It’s just an estimate! Where that time went during the story / task completion is immaterial for planning. Sure, it makes for a good conversation during the retrospective and leads to a fancy spreadsheet some dude in khakis can email around, but tracking actual hours in Scrum does little improve the estimation process of the team and certainly doesn’t increase the teams productivity. If neither of those things are happening as a result of tracking actuals, then I submit it is a pointless venture.
I’ve been toying with the idea of taking on side projects, specifically helping people bring their web application ideas to market in the form of a minimal viable product. I have become very efficient at taking white board concepts and turning them into working software in a short amount of time. Production quality at that, not just prototypes or throwaway code. I’ve talked to a lot of people with good ideas that have similar problems, “I could get this going if I could only code!” Well, I think I can make that happen. First stop is standing up a static website for marketing.
Continue reading “Which Ruby Iibrary for a Static Website”
I keep having to have the realization, epiphany, or whatever you want to call it that I’m only in it for strength, not size / mass. The only thing I should care about during this 12 week MadCow 5×5 program are numbers, specifically the numbers in my spreadsheet that put me at an estimated 1000lbs+ total. Continue reading “MadCow 5×5 Week 3 In Review”
I jumped the gun a bit with that last post. For a 12 week program that has 3 workouts a week, that would be 36 entries, way too many. Once a week is fine, basically a “week in review” of my progress. These posts are for myself really, a way to force me to reflect on my goals, my progress, and serve as a basic gut check. What’s special about this mesocycle is the calculated total at the end is 1000+ lbs, which I’ve been saying for a while is my target, but I’ve had a few set backs and lost focus more times than I would like to admit.
I’m still not 100% and coming off a head cold. Regardless, I felt pretty strong. It was my first time working out in a sweatshirt and realized real quick why you have to had your hood up…you can’t squat with it down! I made all of my lifts without a problem, nothing really too eventful other than my return to the basement and trying to figure out the accessory exercises. Continue reading “MadCow 5×5 Week 2, Workout A”
I’ve been looking to update my full Ruby development stack and see what all the cool kids are using. I love when Rails Rumble wraps up and they break down what everyone used, it’s one of those dog food moments for the community. While it’s a great yearly pulse, it’s not a full look into the community offering to figure out what the best ruby libraries are. Ruby Rumble is a 48 hour competition, a MVP race if you will. Chances are there are many facets of development that go untouched in an MVP so their associated libraries go unaccounted for. At this point, people are interested in the fastest development library, not necessarily the best long term decision. So where can you go to see what’s hot, popular, or the most active? I know of two such places. Continue reading “Where to Find the Best Ruby Libraries”
I was really upset when turntable.fm went offline, it was something I ended up using regularly. Before that site, I really didn’t understand what a “DJ” was, I thought it was just some guy that hit the play button. But the more I used the site, the more I started to understand a good DJ can feel out the vibe in a room and decide where to take it through music. It was quite the epiphany when I put that together. When that went offline, I thought that experience was gone. Then I find plug.dj. Continue reading “Turntable.fm replacement plug.dj looks great”
I’d rather be building out features, but it looks like I need to revisit the Product Pounce landing page design sooner than later. This wasn’t completely unexpected since I’ve been adding more features to the site and want to showcase them right off the bat. The current homepage is barebones at best; it is designed to say what we do and how simply how it works. As of right now, some of that content is out of date. Continue reading “Unplanned Look at the Product Pounce Landing Page Design”