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Showing posts from March, 2010

Are You Agile Enough?

I recently read an article in SD Times about how organizations tailor agile processes to fit into their environment, rather than feeling a need to be dogmatic. Adapting a process to work in your environment is very important to being successful. It's also  important, however to understand how the variations you are making help you move toward your goals.

Being agile is a means to an end; your goal is to develop better software more effectively, not to be able to wear a "We are Agile" badge. If you're considering adopting agile, you are probably doing do because your current approach isn't getting you where you need to be so it's worth giving the 'by the book' technique a shot before you try to adapt an agile method to your circumstances. This especially applies to when you consider omitting practices.  Like many approaches,  there is a synergy between the the core agile practices; any one can help you be better but the big wins come when you do them a…

The Checklist Manifesto as Agile Primer

I recently read Atul Gawande's book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right and found a number of of useful lessons in the book for agile developers. Agile software development methods often have very few explicit processes, but these processes are essential, and require discipline to execute well. We're often tempted to skip steps, either because:
We think that the step doesn't apply in a particular situation orWe forgotThe former is reasonable when we really understand why the step isn't relevant, but we are often tempted to convince ourselves that a step is unnecessary before we've mastered the basic process. One common example is the Scrum Team that is tempted to skip one or more of the standard planning or review activities.  And forgetting is just something that happens when we're busy and moving quickly.

It's when we skip steps that processes break down. Think about the time's you've had a hard time tracking down a problem. How often …

Agile Portfolio Management

 I've heard people criticize agile methods as being too reactive and focusing too much on the little picture and ignoring larger goals. This is a misunderstanding of a basic idea of agile. Agile methods are't about thinking small.  Agile methods are about making small steps towards a goal, applying programming an management discipline along the way. (For more, have look at an elevator pitch for agile I wrote last year.)

The basic approach of all agile methods is to
Define a goalBreak the goal into incremental bits so that you can iterate towards the goalPeriodically (at the end of each iteration) pause to evaluate both your progress towards the goal, and whether the goal makes sense. Teams often skip the second part of the this evaluation, but it's the constant evaluation of the long term goals that makes it possible to reconcile the concepts of being agile and planning.

If you have doubts about whether long-range planning in an agile environment is even possible, read Joha…