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What are the Principles?

The agile reboot is underway... the company says it is using "Agile" yet there is no methodology/process/framework that defines "Agile" is there.  So it is not a very valid statement to say we do Agile.  Agile is a philosophy - defined by 4 comparative value statements and 12 principles.  So the top-dog rightly focuses the company on one well defined Agile process - Scrum.  Great move for a change initiative.  Focus is going to be important.  Now we need to discriminate the change - what is it that we want to quit doing and what do we wish to start doing?  We must label these things.

Three of the 12 principles of Agile with engineering
practices mapped to them (TDD, Pair Programming, etc).
When we tried to map our existing practices - we found
we didn't have very many disciplined practices, so this
is a mapping of a desired future state.

Typically it is easy - one applies the Waterfall label to the old and the Agile or Lean label or more specifically Scrum/XP or Kanban to the new.  That has worked for me in the past very well.  But what to do when it doesn't work?  What to do, if the company has brainwashed itself into thinking it is practicing Agile.

I must resist the Stockholm syndrome. That culture of just get it done - is not a process - and by any definition of the word - it is not Agile.

But then perhaps in a moment of desperation they look around and ask - "what are the principles"?  What is the foundational philosophy of this Scrum process?  We want to know these so that we will know where we can customize this process.  We want to know what we can bend, what we can circle around - how can we keep doing what our culture dictates and just install the scrum.

Agile Culture Series Reading Guide Written by: Michael Sahota

How many times does a process get broken before it is tried - before it is adopted - before any experience what-so-ever with the designed process, we say "we can't do that - we must change it" - not our selves - we change the process.  We all know that it is easier to change something else than it is to change ourselves.  So we search for the exceptions that will prove the case that process step 23-C will not work here - we have decided that we are so special that the Sun actually revolves around us.

Scrum designers have done a wonderful job of defining a very small list of things that must be done - if you do them - then you are doing Scrum.  If you break the rules, bend the framework to suit you special case - well then do you think you will get the desired outcome?

So that first question of what are the principles may be more subversive than it appears.  Because if you slip up and define a gap in the principle fabric then there will be a hole for the monsters to slip back through.   Given that I'm not going to be able to articulate each principle and you will not quite understand my meaning just perfectly.  Is this not a slippery slope.

So if you want to customize your process - one that has been built/designed/tested/refactored over years by experts - and you think you are qualified to state when we can just re-jigger this piece, skipping that piece, it is just a waste, never understood it anyway, so we'll just do it our way.  Well I don't want any part of your bastardization.

If you want the principles - they were stated - as best we have found in the Manifesto.  Don't re-invent the principles - just re-use them.


Exercise :: Mapping Engineering Principles to Agile Practices (PDF) by David Koontz

Lovely space at Microsoft NERD center.
Mapping Engineering Practices to Agile Principles at
Agile Games 2011 in Cambridge.
Note circular whiteboard - awesome!

 
Trusted & Motivated People - a label for
one of 12 Agile principles is well supported
by 5 practices.
Jay summing up 'User Stories' supports 7 principles

David Koontz
Pointing at the root of our principles
Agile Manifesto


Another Exercise: The Definition of Done & Ready!

See Also:
Exercise:: Mapping Engineering Practices to Agile Principles article by David Koontz - includes PDF downloadable exercise.
The 12 Principles Ice Breaker by Gerard Chiva on Oikosofy
The Big List of Agile Practices - NOOP, Jurgen Appelo an alternative list of engineering practices to map to the Agile Principles



Comments

Glenn said…
Nice. I'm facilitating a workshop next week and I'm going to try out the exercise you describe. Nice way to engage the group in the values and principles!

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Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, then yo…

David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

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What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?

The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder …

Situational Leadership II Model & Theory

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought the technique needed to move forward was one thing, yet the person leading (your leader) assumed something else was what was needed?  Did you feel misaligned, unheard, marginalized?  Would you believe that 54% of all leaders only use ONE style of leadership - regardless of the situation?  Does that one style of leading work well for the many levels of development we see on a team?

Perhaps your team should investigate one of the most widely used leadership models in the world ("used to train over 5 million managers in the world’s most respected organizations").  And it's not just for the leaders.  The training is most effective when everyone receives the training and uses the model.  The use of a ubiquitous language on your team is a collaboration accelerator.  When everyone is using the same mental model, speaking the same vernacular hours of frustration and discussion may be curtailed, and alignment achieved, outcomes …

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…