Agile

Thoughts on Refactoring

Thoughts on Refactoring

I recently worked with a team on a fairly significant refactoring. I paired with different team members each day over a three day period as we moved code around, pushing responsibility into other classes, reducing complexity, and make the code more expressive. On the fourth day, I put together some notes on the things we saw and general guidelines for the team to keep in mind. Nothing herein is new to the community, but it might be new to you.

Troubleshooting Velocity

Troubleshooting Velocity

Recently, on a private forum, a member posted a query about their team’s recent drop in Velocity. Concerned about how their boss would respond, this individual wanted to know how to troubleshoot velocity issues.

After spending over an hour crafting a response, I decided I would also add it to my public blogs in case there are others who have similar questions about velocity.

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Attempts to show increased velocity

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Attempts to show increased velocity

When leadership asks for an increase in velocity, there are a few common behaviors that occur. Each of them are an attempt to satisfy the potentially unrealistic ask.

It is intriguing to me how often a manager will make a change such as this to a system of work and then later proclaim that the team is gaming the system. This is simply not the case. In fact, the gaming of the system is the improper application of targets or goals for lagging indicators. The rest is just natural consequence.

You can find more on the topic of velocity and metrics for agile teams in my book, "Escape Velocity".

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Enticing More Velocity

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Enticing More Velocity

Leaders (and teams) attempt to achieve velocity increases in numerous ways. Most, as you can imagine, have unintended side effects on the teams and none significantly improve the actual flow/delivery of value to their customers. Here we explore a few ways teams might be encouraged to increase their velocity. Unfortunately, no matter how well intentioned, using such techniques still has a negative impact.

This content and more on agile metrics is available in the book, "Escape Velocity"

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Demand for higher velocity

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Demand for higher velocity

Demanding more velocity is far and away, the most common Velocity Anti-Pattern, and quite possibly the most harmful. It manifests itself in a number of differing fashions, but the basics are the same: Somebody determines that the team needs to get more done in less time. So they send out the message - “We are going to need more velocities.” This person is usually an authority figure and typically doesn’t do the actual work being asked of the team. And they clearly don’t know what velocity is. More velocities? Aw C’mon, really?

This content and more on agile metrics is available in the book, "Escape Velocity"

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Introduction

Velocity Anti-Patterns - Introduction

If you’ve been on an agile team that uses velocity as a key metric, you’ve probably experienced or at least witnessed some pretty strange behavior.

I asked a group of agile coaches and practitioners via Twitter and LinkedIn about dysfunctions they’ve seen on teams related to the use of velocity. I received plenty of responses that inspired head shaking and hand wringing. I pulled out the most commonly identified issues related to velocity and metrics and share them here.

You can find more on the topic of velocity and metrics for agile teams in my book, "Escape Velocity".

 

Announcing the Agile2017 Technical Program Team

Announcing the Agile2017 Technical Program Team

I am absolutely honored to have been selected to serve as the Technical Program Chair for Agile2017. I have the further honor of managing the return of the Audacious Salon after its successful inaugural year.My first significant duty as Program Chair was to assemble a Program Team. For each track in my assign, I needed to identify a chair and co-chair to help define the track, recruit a review team, and ultimately select the track content.

Using Collaboration Contracts

Using Collaboration Contracts

Collaboration Contracts are a way of identifying who is involved in a decision and what level of decision-making authority each participant has. This isn't a delegation model where some individual is empowered and imparts unto others some fraction of their authority for a limited period of time. This is a collaboration model where all participants are equally empowered, but find consensus on all topics to be a suboptimal approach.

Dinner with Family

Dinner with Family

Dinner together as a family was a key part of how we raised our children and how we kept our family so tightly knit for years. No matter what you had to accomplish in a given day, you did your damnedest not to miss dinner. I often left the office, came home to share a meal, and headed back into the office.

There were no boundaries at the dinner table. There didn't need to be. We talked about everything.

Nerd/Noir Presents Doc Norton On Collaborative Decision Making This April In Atlanta

For Immediate Release

Atlanta’s Nerd/Noir announces collaboration with Chicago’s CTO2 to present a workshop for software development teams.

March 2, 2016 - Atlanta, Georgia

Nerd/Noir presents Doc Norton’s workshop on Collaborative Decision Making at TechSquare Labs, April 14, 2016.

This creative collaboration workshop provides tools that address such issues team alignment, task prioritization, and complex team processes.

Even high functioning teams occasionally have a hard time making decisions or coming up with creative ideas. There are times when the conversation seems to drag on long after a decision is reached. There are times when too many people are involved in the discussion or the wrong people involved. There are times when a team is not sure who's the actual decision maker. And there are those times when team members just seem to be out of synch with each other.

This workshop is designed to be truly experiential. Rather than discussing topics, teams are quickly introduced to a concept and then spend time working together using the techniques they’ve learned. As the workshop progresses, teams have an opportunity to utilize the tools they learned earlier in the workshop and see how these techniques can be used together in various ways. At the end of the workshop, teams will have addressed a number of different challenges that are common to all of our work lives.

About CTO2 - Founded in Chicago in 2015, CTO2 helps organizations create intentional cultures and structures optimized for sustainable software delivery. With over 40 years of combined experience in software delivery process, tools, staffing, and retention across a wide range of industries, CTO2 is uniquely qualified to help companies face the challenge of growing technology teams whilst maintaining a healthy and vibrant culture. Doc Norton, Founder and CEO, is passionate about working with teams to improve delivery and build great organizations. Once a dedicated code slinger, Doc has turned his energy toward helping teams, departments, and companies work better together in the pursuit of better software. Working with a wide range of companies such as GrouponNationwide InsuranceBelly, and many others, Doc has applied tenants of agile, lean, systems thinking, and servant leadership to develop highly effective cultures and drastically improve their ability to deliver valuable software and products. For more information, please visit www.wearecto2.com

About Nerd/Noir - Founded in Atlanta in 2015, Nerd/Noir serves teams already on the agile path looking to master the art and science of product design and software development. Nerd/Noir offers full stack agile/lean coaching and workshops, mindfully tailored to achieve measurable outcomes. Co-founder David Laribee has over 20 years experience as a player-coach and builder of high-performing agile teams. His partner, Alexandra West brings a 20-year background in fine art, film and design to the mix. Together with their canine mascots, Roxy and Señor, they can be found scouring Atlanta for the beautiful, unusual and inspiring. For more information, please visit nerdnoir.com
 

Coaching Anti-Patterns: Shock and Awe

Coaching Anti-Patterns: Shock and Awe

I often find myself talking to people who are in the midst of a switch to agile and who find the change very difficult to get used to. They may be strong advocates, but their team just "doesn't get it". Through discussion, I find that many of them are attempting what I refer to as "Shock and Awe" agile. If you couldn't tell by the name, I consider this another agile coaching anti-pattern.

They're going to hate you anyway

They're going to hate you anyway

I read an article today that was posted on LinkedIn. I'm not going to link to the article. I'm not going to tell you who wrote it. I am only telling you about the article to set the stage for what I want to write about in this quick post.

In the article, along with "taking the best from Waterfall and Agile" and mixing them together into a "perfect methodology", the author, as a self-proclaimed change agent, suggested you should force implement all CMMI Level 5 developer practices at once.