• There will always be more work than people

    I mentioned a couple weeks ago that something I often hear at the workplace is that we need more resources people. I hear it over and over again, in every software development organization that I’ve ever worked in. So why is this? Why don’t we ever have enough people to do everything on our plates?

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  • Is Scrum Broken?

    I’ve read a number of articles recently arguing that Scrum doesn’t work. With so many people having similar negative experiences, I’m starting to wonder: Is there a valid point here?

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  • People as Resources

    Last week I did something that I generally try to avoid doing: I referred to people as resources. I don’t want to belabor why here, that discussion has been well covered on the internets. The gist is that lumping people into the same category as other resources dehumanizes people. What I’d like to do instead is talk about when I think it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

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  • The Efficiencies of Firefighters and Doctors

    We all want to be efficient. We want to get stuff done. We want to make the most of our time. That’s efficiency. Unfortunately, those two things - getting stuff done quickly and making the most of our time - are often at odds.

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  • Combining a Kanban Board with a Day Planner

    I mentioned previously that one way to hold oneself accountable to a goal is to to create a plan with microgoals milestones, and such. As someone who is passionate about agility and the practices that support it, a kanban board was my knee-jerk thought. But what about another tool I like, my Bullet Journal? I bounced back and forth a bit between the two, but then it hit me: They’re both flexible tools. Why not combine them?

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  • Handling Dependencies

    One of the hallmarks of the agile mindset is cross-functional teams. If you’re working within the Scrum framework, this means that the team is comprised of “members [who] have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint.” The reason for this is that dependencies slow everything down. There are basically three different ways to approach those dependencies.

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  • 50(ish) Posts

    It’s that time of year again. The new year has come and gone, a couple weeks have gone by, and New Year’s Resolutions are already starting to fail in predictable fashion.

    I’ve written in the past that SMART goals can help you to succeed with your resolutions, but that’s not enough. Creating accountability for yourself is another way of helping you to achieve your goals.

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  • "Just follow the process"

    Variations on this are something I hear fairly frequently, from lots of people in lots of organizations. So why does this happen? Why don’t people follow the process. In my experience, there are three reasons.

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  • Scrum Graphic

    Recently, I was preparing for a Scrum class that I would be teaching remotely. Since I’m accustomed to doing training sessions in person, I’m used to drawing posters for my classes. However, this wasn’t going to work anymore and, as a result, I found myself in need of a good graphic of the Scrum Framework.

    So I made my own. If you find it useful, please use it!

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  • Remote Training

    Just before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, I found myself serendipitously working for Pearson, a “remote first” organization. One of the things I was excited about at Pearson was that I was pretty sure that I would be able to continue the Scrum training courses that I had previously given at Shelter. I wasn’t sure what those training sessions would look like in a remote first organization, but I had hoped to continue giving them in-person, in the same two day format to which I was accustomed. Covid-19 removed that possibility.

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  • Maximum Acceptable Shoddiness

    MVP, or Minimum Viable Product is a term that gets thrown around business like crazy. It’s especially ubiquitous in “Agile” contexts. MVP is something that we constantly ask ourselves. What is the MVP? What can we put off until Day Two? What are the need-to-haves and what are the nice-to-haves? These are all great discussions to have.

    However, sometimes, these conversations change.

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  • Dev Teams Need Sportsball Coaches

    Any time that we look at professional sports teams, we see one thing in common: they all have coaches. Just like a sports team needs a coach to reach the championships, a development team needs a coach to reach its full potential.

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  • Expanding the Lean Penny Game

    One of the most fun things about training is the way that the trainees surprise me. At my last training session, a team floored me with their creative solution to the penny game that I previously wrote about. Their innovation led them to a 40% increase in productivity. We played a few more rounds after the training to see how far we could push this, and what additional lessons might be gleaned from it.

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  • Modern Agile

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about Modern Agile a lot. It took me a while to get my head wrapped around it at first, but it turns out that I was completely overthinking it. After watching Joshua Kerievsky’s excellent explanation, I’m finally starting to grok it.

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  • Agile and Lean

    A buddy of mine from college, Brady Beckham, recently got in touch with me to ask me about agile. He focuses on lean manufacturing, trying to identify and eliminate or reduce waste in the manufacturing process. Through this, he had stumbled across agile and got enough of a sense of it to realize that there was probably some overlap. He gave me a call and asked if we could get together and share knowledge. Naturally, I jumped on that opportunity.

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  • Design Sprint

    Our team engaged in a Design Sprint recently. A Design Sprint is a weeklong series of activities that takes a group of people from an initial idea or problem to a prototyped solution (or solutions) that have been tested by users. It’s one of the more fun things that I get to participate in as a facilitator.

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  • A Lean Penny Game for Cross Functional Teams

    In his seminal work on the Theory of Constraints, The Goal, Eli Goldratt outlines a matchstick game to illustrate how variability in flow impacts a team’s ability to deliver. I decided to run a modified version of this game to show how cross functional teams can reduce that variability and deliver more consistently.

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  • The Battle for the Net

    Over the next weekish, a number of websites will be engaged in a campaign to lobby the Senate to block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. As a supporter of an open internet, I have decided to participate in this campaign.Many of the arguments around net neutrality on both sides of the discussion tend to focus on business objectives. But I think that there’s a more important argument: Revoking net neutrality threatens our First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

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  • New Site! (again)

    I’ve once again, rebuilt my website. I’m really excited about this rebuild. This time around, I’m using Jekyll, a static site generator. This gives me a few advantages over my old Craft site.

    On top of using Jekyll, I’ve implemented a number of other improvements and new features.

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  • The First of Many Two-Day Training Sessions

    Over the past several months, I’ve been building up my training skillset with several of my coworkers at Shelter Insurance. This past week one of those coworkers and I put on Shelter’s first in-house two-day Agile training session. It was super fun!

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  • Semantic Overload and Agile

    One thing that drives me crazy about the agile world is the incredible prevalence of semantically overloaded terminology. Simply put, semantic overload is a word that has different meanings in different contexts. The problem with this is that it can create confusion. For example, if I tell you that I’m going to run to the store, you don’t actually know if I’m going to drive or jog. You might assume one or the other. You might make some inferences based on context or past history. But you don’t know.

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  • Learning from Failure with the Five Whys

    An important idea that we take away from Agile software development is examining our failures and learning from them. We take a hard look at what caused us to fail and fix the problem. One of the ways we do that is through a technique called “Five Whys.”

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  • SMART Goals to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Successful

    We’re pretty bad at New Year’s resolutions. According to some research, 92% of them fail. SMART goals are a great way to set better goals for ourselves when we’re setting our New Year’s resolutions. They save us from the common trap of poorly defined goals, which gives a better chance of beating the odds.

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  • Doing Agile vs. Being Agile

    When we talk about agile, we tend to talk about it in the context of “doing.” There’s also the concept of “being agile” and the two ways of framing agility lead to different thinking about agility, what it means, and how to achieve it.

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  • How Big Is a Story Point?

    The team that I work with has long struggled with a question around story points: How do they scale?

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  • I made some art... Or did I?

    The subjective nature of art often leaves us questioning whether or not something is art. Is it art if someone is just slinging paint against a canvas? What if it could have been done by a toddler? What if it was done by a toddler? Nowadays, with computers, a new kind of question is arising: How much human intervention is required to make art?

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  • New Site!

    If you’ve been paying attention to my site, you’ve probably noticed that it looks a little different than it used to. It’s not just the look of the site though, it’s a whole new website, inside and out. I’ve completely rebuilt the site from the ground up in Craft. Craft offers a lot of development opportunities that were prohibitively time consuming in my old CMS, Wordpress. I’ve already done a few things that I’d been putting off in Wordpress and plan on doing quite a few more.

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  • New York Trip – Book II

    Brooke and my continued adventures in New York.

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  • New York Trip – Book I

    Brooke and I went to New York a few weeks back. Her employer sent her to Nielsen Norman’s Usability Week. These are some of our adventures.

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  • It’s all about moderation.

    One of my most oft-visited sites on the internets is Bicycles Stack Exchange. I was recently elected to be a moderator for the site.

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