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Showing posts from September, 2009

Scrum Experience Report for CSP

This is my experience report for the Scrum Alliance's Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP) requirements. I publish it online now because of the debate on the CSM Exam. It was written in April, 2009 in reference to a project that lasted over one year.


1. Through the questions below, please describe one project on which you have used Scrum over the past twelve months.

1.1. What was the project’s purpose? What business goal was the project intended to deliver?

To introduce Agile practices to existing organization while developing a new VoIP product for home use by consumers. The software to be developed created the new users account and provisioned the consumer’s hardware on the network and the VoIP Broadsoft server.

1.2. What was the project length? What was the duration of the project?

I was on site for about 1 year (Oct, 2007 - Oct, 2008) the project continued on until approx. Feb, 2009
when it was canceled. After having delivered a product to the market place for regional mark…

Apple sees the Holistic Environmental Picture

Apple has been criticized for it's environmental policies in the past (Green Peace).

But is the holistic picture not what Green Peace wishes the view to be? The environment is after all a holistic system.

Apple took a big picture, long term view on the greenhouse gas emission. Including the consumer products usage in their analysis (the point of disagreement). In the report on Apples Environmental site, the largest percentage of emission is found to be in the product use - 53%. Why would other companies wish to exclude this large portion in the analysis (HP & Dell)?

Those with a long term memory may note that a one time almost president sits on the board at Apple - this same person also raised the awareness of global warming from a scientific debate to a social movement. Would Al Gore have a big picture view of this issue?

I applaud Apple's view of its responsibility to the world for the cradle to grave analysis of products. Reminds me of another leader in the environment…

Pair Programming Blinders

Could you use some blinders for your pair?

Roobasoft’s Concentrate ( or Anti-Socialis a bit like blinders that I use to put on the pony while hitching up the plow (and although I'm not that old - yes we used our pony to plow the garden).

It works by turning off applications that could distract either pair such as access to Facebook, Twitter, chat, mail, etc. allowing your to concentrate on the task at hand.

I can think of several people I've paired with that this would have increased productivity about 300%! It was a task just to keep them focused. Of course the asides and tangents I went down were all for the better - yea right!

See Also:
10 Concentration Apps that will help you to Focus

Comparative Agility Survey Results

Mike Cohn & Kenny Rubin's Comparative Agility Survey attempts to measure your team's behavior in relation to the Agile values and principles. It compares your results to the survey sample population's Agility. It doesn't give you a absolute score, but rather a relative score.

Does it provide realistic information? Maybe, I hope so. How do we know? One technique that the social and behavioral sciences uses is a test of reliability and validity of the survey. When I talked with Rubin this summer he said there are plans to do such a study in the fall of 2009. One of the typical test of validity is the expert review. So if you have done a few years of Agile software development, take the test and give your opinion. Note the definition of an expert according to author Malcolm Gladwell is 10,000 hours of concentrated study in the field (for example 10 years of 4 hours per day study of a complex skill such as kung-fu, or playing the base guitar, or accounting).


To Dvorak or not to Dvorak

The Dvorak question.

I'm thinking about learning a lot these days. In an Organizational Leadership master's program the L-word is bantered about quite a bit. Can organizations learn? What environment does it take for people to learn?

I ran across this article on the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard by Robert Parkinson on John Shipman's site. It is astonishing to me that we still teach and use the QWERTY keyboard. I was looking for a keyboard that one could use one-handed. Use one hand for typing while the other hand controls the mouse. I didn't know it but the Mac already has that keyboard "built-in", its called the Lefthand Dvorak, along with the Righthand Dvorak and the Dvorak/Qwerty keyboards.
Dvorak on the Mac.
System Preferences : Language & Text : Input Sources tab. Scroll down the list, check the box beside Dvorak.
Why would you want to switch? Take a look at the Gettysburg Address example (from the Parkinson paper - click to get hi-res image) you…

Luke Arm - How long between invention and innovation?

Look at the advances in less than a decade.  Here's a video from May 2016 from IEEE Spectrum.

Prosthetic Hand Restores Amputee's Sense of Touch

Luke Arm (Sept. 2009)

How long did Luke Skywalker have to wait for his prosthetic arm? Not long he was back in the action within days it seems.

I’ve been loosely following the Luke Arm - Dean Kamen’s name of the DARPA funded prosthesis. First I’m floored that in 30 months the team could create such a beautiful design (beautiful in an engineering way). The human arm (counting the hand also) has 22 degrees of freedom (DOF) (movements like forearm rotation). The traditional hook and cable prosthetic has just 3 DOF. That hook was designed in the days of sailing ships, updated with aircraft cabling to allow some movement after World War I.

The typical user gives up on the frustrating hook/cable arm after a few years. Why? Kamen’s group think it is the low return on investment (ROI) the arms provide the user. They don’t provide enough ben…

CSM Exam - about time!

Reading Danube's blog The CSM Exam.

Some background - the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) is a certification by the Scrum Alliance that has been given to every (99.999% perhaps I exaggerate) one that attended the 2 day training program. The certification has been a contronversy for as long as it has been offered (many years now). The Alliance is putting a real written exam into place as a requirement for certification.

I think a real test is a GREAT thing. Given that it is a “certification”.

Definition of certification: a document attesting a level of achievement in a course of study or training.

Attendance, the previous requirement does not “attest to a level of achievement”.

In Danube's post they state:
“Of course, the flipside is that an exam will only test attendees on certain aspects of the Scrum framework in a format that does not necessarily promote a deep understanding of Scrum’s values.”

The assumption in this statement appears to be that the test is not well designed or that i…

Single Payer Health Care will Work

Health Care Reform

Here's why I want a ONE payer system. Just got a BCBS statement (explanation of benefits - wait for it, we will come back for this). It was for a general checkup, I got a tetanus shot (they really push them - like drugs) and a small 'skin-tag' removed from my underarm.

Office visit $221
Preventive Service $242
Surgery-Skin tag removal $176

on the second statement - completely separate envelope for the same visit:

Drugs $65
Vaccine Admin $30
Treatment Room $120
Laboratory $12
Laboratory $74
Laboratory $22
Laboratory $43

Yep that explains it!

Would any reasonable person believe that being charged an office visit and a treatment room for the same visit is NOT redundant double billing. A phone call to the provider Virginia Mason assures me that this is standard procedure.

So how does the double speak of EXPLANATION of BENEFITS sound now? I'm confused, and just believe that a single payer system will make my life better! Sure a lot…

Environment's Role in High Performance Teams

What environmental qualities does it take to foster a high performance team?

Do not make the assumption that good people will perform at the top of their game regardless of the environment. It is crucial to provide the environment that encourages top performers. It is leadership that sets the stage of the environment. To continue the play analogy: the leaders are in control of the stage manager's budgets for prop and materials, provide vision for the director's action instructions, and inspire risk taking to achieve works of art. A good leader will know the bounds of the environment, perhaps by testing, scouting and exploring the area. This knowledge of the environment will help them to guide the organization within the sustainability envelope. It is not in the overall interest of the organization to exceed the sustainable performance characteristics of the team. The environment has a large impact on sustainability of team performance.

Graham Jones' article in Chie…

Methods of Work

I just realized something about my self. Maybe I've known it, but it popped this time. It is in big type, this time. It is "methods of work". That's the part I like the best.

I've been reading my father's Fine Wood Working magazines for over 20 years (at $8 who can afford them?). I just bought the Oct 2009 issue of Fine Wood Working, my wife saw it and noted that Sam Maloof (1916 - 2009) had died, they feature him on the cover in one of his fine rocking chairs (a great cover). I read the articles, and enjoy looking at great furniture, however I keep finding that I enjoy the how to articles the most. It not just the 'how to' that intrigues me it is the process of making something even better/easier to accomplish or how to make a jig that allows for a more precise/accurate machining step. I've read my father's Fine Wood Working off and on for years now. This issue it hit me like a ton of... rough cut 2x8s - the title of the how to section …

Groupthink in Scrum Teams

How do you combat this known dysfunction of a group in Scrum teams?

Groupthink is defined best I think by Irving Janis, who studied it's effects in the Bay of Pigs invasion, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the escalation of the Vietnam War.

Groupthink - A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
- Irving Janis. Victims of Groupthink. 1972, p. 9.President Kennedy's thigh-knit group got caught up in groupthink, but learned their lesson and changed their group-decision making process by the time they dealt with the Cuban missile crises. A small proof of a learning organization.

Did President Bush's group learn there groupthink lessons?

Janis gives 8 indicators of groupthink:
Invulnerability - many members of the ingroup have an illusion of invulnerability.Rationale - they rationalize away warnings and o…

Are you an Theory X or Theory Y manager?

Have you heard of Douglas McGregor's two theories on motivation of humans?

In the 1960s McGregor proposed two competing theories on motivation and management of people.

Theory X was based in the assumption that employees don't like work, don't want to be at work, would goof off if they could, and must be coerced to higher performance.

Theory Y was based in the assumption that employees do like their work, are intrinsically motivated, can be creative, seek responsibility, and exercise self-direction and self-control.

McGregor was basing his two theories on Maslow's hierarchy of needs (lower order to higher order needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-actualization). With the assumption that Theory X was concerned with the lower order needs (physiological & safety) while Theory Y was concerned with the higher order needs (esteem & self-actualization). McGregor didn't believe there was a continuous continuum. That perhaps motivation was bi-modal.

Can you calculate this?

Can you do math calculations in your head? How about long division on paper? Have you forgotten the multiplication tables above 5? Well then I'll bet you don't have any idea how to use a slide rule. Much less a Thatcher's Calculating Instrument.

This calculator is in the Bremerton Navy Museum. A little web searching found this description of a similar instrument in the Powerhouse Museum:
Description: Cylindrical slide rule, metal / paper / wood, designed by Edwin Thacher, New York, United States of America, 1897-1907

'Thacher's calculating instrument' is a cylindrical slide rule that can be used to calculate results by adding and subtracting logarithms. The machine consists of a cylinder with wooden handles at either end. The cylinder has been covered in glossy paper that is printed with log scales; it rotates inside a series of twenty brass bars that are also covered with gloss paper printed with log scales. Along the front of the cylinder there is a brass ba…

Motivation & Herzberg Two-Factor Theory

I read a great article on motivation (intrinsic vs extrinsic) in Agile adoption.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in Agile Development, Adoption
However I find I don't totally agree with some of the comments tending to tell us that we should not applaud good behavior or success. In thinking about this I think one could apply Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory.

I believe that applauding stories completed in a sprint review would fall in the Recognition factor, and is highly correlated to job satisfaction. While I believe that punishment for not completing a story (in whatever manner) would be found somewhere on the hygiene side of the chart, the side that leads to dissatisfaction.

To understand the difference image that your trash has not been taken out in a few weeks - does this make you dissatisfied, yes! But does the trash always being removed on schedule make you satisfied, no. Therefore the trash factor is a hygiene factor, and does not lead to satisfaction. Herzberg found …