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Showing posts from January, 2011

What is a Sustainable Pace? Velocity - Right? No!

Do you know what your team's sustainable pace is?  Do you believe it is equal to their Velocity?

Let's try to answer that question.

Scrum tells us that we should be Sprinting toward the goal of delivering working software.  But then it tells us that we should work at a pace that is sustainable over the long haul.  Is that an oxymoron?  Or is that Zen?

Velocity is the rate at which the team is delivering valuable-working-tested software to the customer.  If that velocity is at a steady state then it is the sustainable pace for that team - right?  I'll agree to that - if that velocity is relatively steady state over 2 years of time.  Then there is a high likely hood that the velocity accounts for vacation, holiday, sickness, team member changes, and growth of the scope of the definition of done for a sprint.

So how do you get a team working on a project to a steady state for two years?  In this industry - you don't!  But that doesn't mean we can approximate the point…

How do you connect with Digital Natives?

I'm thinking a lot these days about the environment that we inhabit.  And who is here beside me.  The faces look similar to when I started in this business 20+ years ago, but what makes those people tick, is quite another matter.

Many of these faces belong to Digital Natives - a person that grew up in a digital world.

The term “digital native” and “digital immigrants” comes from Marc Prensky a writer, speaker, consultant and inventor in educational games and learning processes. In coining these terms Mr. Prensky is drawing on the analogy of natives to a homeland and in this case we are talking about the digital land or those who have always known the internet and the immigrants are the ones that are coming to this new land, some kicking and sreaming and others eagerly exploring and learning the new skills, language, and culture needed to travel in this digital world (Prensky, 2001). In this new digital land the natives have an advantage over the immigrants. This advantage stems fro…

Cognitive Dissonance required to Secure iPhone

I was just sent a link to a good article on smart phone security and safety.  It got me thinking about the mistakes I had made in my iPhone info security strategy.  Why had I made these simple mistakes?

Common Sense Security for Your iPhone

This article is about the basic.  Since I've had my iPhone stolen on a trip to Europe I'm an expert.  My iPhone had at the time: Find My iPhone installed and active.  But it didn't work, as the iPhone was in Airplane mode (being in Europe and off the home AT&T network).  Since the iPhone would not connect to the network, the Wipe Commands from Apple would never reach the iPhone (in Airplane mode).  A severe limitation to the security while traveling out of country (and an opportunity for a global service provider).

My iPhone had Passcode turned on, it had SplashID - a safe for sensitive info like credit card numbers, etc.  I had all my credit card info, banking account numbers, driver's license, passport info, tons of membership ca…

A Technical Debit - Collateralized Debt Obligation you should not invest in

I just watch Ward Cunningham explain the XP Technical Debit metaphor that he coined.  It enlightened my understanding of how the term was applied in the early days (when he used it), and how we have mutated the metaphor to cover areas he never intended.


Ward Cunningham's Debt Metaphor Isn't a Metaphor (18 March 2009)
In summary Ward was suggesting that it was valuable long term thinking for a company to take on debt (technical debt) in order to ship a product early and get market feedback. Feedback that would get factored into the next iteration (release) of that same product. You see building software by Ward's XP model is not like building a house or a sky-scraper, it's like growing a garden of asparagus. Asparagus is a flowering perennial which requires several seasons of cultivation before it is ready to ship to market.  My father grew asparagus in our garden, when I was a kid, I didn't like it much then, but love it now.

Using debt to achieve something much …

First thing we do is Review

I'm working with a wonderful team this week in a unique "kickoff" or as we call it in our vernacular a team launch.  Here I have a mental image of an aircraft carrier with a plane on the flight deck, cocked and locked in the steam powered slingshot.  The flight control officer drops a flag and pow the team takes flight off the deck and into the air - easy, peasy.

A new experiment I've tried in this launch is the one hour iteration.  We have been working day in and day out all week.  However I've set a cadence of one hour iterations.  We start promptly on the hour, work in the iteration for 50 minutes and break for 10 minutes (yes you're thinking of tomatoes).

I've started each iteration with a mantra, "First thing we do is Review."  After 3 days the group is now doing this with out my prompting.  Heck just yesterday, they even started 1 minute after the hour because I didn't stand up and start the meeting promptly.  Yes, I was sitting calmly…

And they called it Scrum (iteration 4)

See also:  And they called it Scrum (iteration 5)


I'm sitting here drinking a Big Orange and thinking about Scrum.  How much does Andy's monologue, What it Was, Was Football sound like your management or C-level?

Why did they call this lightweight process (that later became know as an Agile process framework) Scrum?  I don't know - but allow me some revisionist historical fiction, and I'll tell you.

Scrum by definition is a play in the real sport of Rugby.  I think Jeff Sutherland (roots of Scrum) may be a Rugby fan.  Being an observant guy and noticing the similarity to software development and the true game, it hit him one day in the midst of a game (it was most likely a legal hit, as there are few illegal hits in Rugby - this ain't Football).

Scrum - in Rugby:  a play that commences after a pause in play (and we ain't goin' stop for just anything - this ain't Football) where the two opposing teams discuss in an orderly fashion …

Fail-Successfully:: What was Columbus' Problem?

Christopher Columbus' purpose was to find a faster, safer route to the silk, spices, and opiates of Asia (a total system rewrite for the failing legacy system - Silk Road).

Was his problem that he didn't know his location and the location of his destination?  No.  Those were knowns to him.  He had maps of these locations.

Was his problem that he didn't know how to navigate?  No.  He was an accomplished ship's captain and in those days you had to navigate via dead reconing and he was adopting the new technology of celestial navigation.  I'm practicing a bit of historical speculation but in his day, figuring out Latitude was hard but a known problem with lots of calculations requiring a computer (person good with figures & lookup tables).  Guessing at Longitude was an unknown problem. It would be centuries before this problem is solved by John Harrison (1693 – 1776) a clockmaker that invented the marine chronometer, capable of sufficient fidelity to be useful in …

Prioritize, and reprioritize like the ship's capatin of the USS Constitution

The U S. S. Constitution (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea.

According to her ship's log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum." 

Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping."

Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November.  She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for England.  In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exha…

Story Points - what's with the missing numbers?

First let's talk about Numbers, then something else, and then Story Points.

Number, integers and real numbers provide the scientist with a very valuable tool, a continuum of regular spaced labels for comparison purposes.  These integers are sequential with no gaps or voids.  This is quite special in nature, for there are very few things in the natural world that are so regular and consistent over an infinite range.

Let's look at the number 10.  It's a nice round number (divisible by two) and it has a roundness to it's drawing.  It is a commonly used end point in quizzes and surveys.  Is there something special about it - why not use 12?  Chicken farmers do, bakers do, why don't we in the Agile software world?  No - we use unlucky 13.


Something else - Font Sizes
What's your favorite font size?  I'm betting 12 point.  Because it is the default on most software programs - I'll wait take a look.  While you're up there at the font menu where is font size …

Paraprosdokian - a funny figure of speech, if I could pronounce it.

Yes copied right from Wikipedia for your reading pleasure.

A paraprosdokian (from Greek "παρα-", meaning "beyond" and "προσδοκία", meaning "expectation") is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

Some paraprosdokians not only change the meaning of an early phrase, but also play on the double meaning of a particular word, creating a syllepsis.

Examples

"If I could say a few words, I'd be a better public speaker." —Homer Simpson

"If I am reading this graph correctly — I'd be very surprised." —Stephen Colbert

"You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing — after they have tried everything else." —…

Velocity - defined; but it's so much more complex

If you need a definition of Velocity go ask your typical 9th grade student taking Physics.

Velocity- A vector that measures the relative change in position of an object, and indicates the objects average direction.

Velocity is a vector.  A vector consistent of two components: a scaler magnitude and a direction.  It is typical for the definition of velocity to be simplified to speed & direction.  But that is a simplification.  Magnitude is a scalar - just a number (with or without units).  Dirction is a heading - based in the coordinate system being imposed upon the measures.


scalar - A quantity, such as mass, length, or speed, that is completely specified by its magnitude and has no direction.

The magnitude of change in position in the case of this vector is a scalar.  That magnitude may be calculated in many different ways.  But in the motion of objects it is simple to calculate the difference between initial and current position.  All other motion (the track of the position throug…

And they called it Scrum (iteration 3)

See also:  And they called it Scrum (iteration 5)
I'm sitting here drinking a Big Orange and thinking about Scrum.  How much does Andy's monologue, What it Was, Was Football sound like your management or C-level?

Why did they call this lightweight process (that later became know as an Agile process framework) Scrum?  I don't know - but allow me some revisionist historical fiction, and I'll tell you.

Scrum by definition is a play in the real sport of Rugby.  I think Jeff Sutherland (roots of Scrum) may be a Rugby fan.  Being an observant guy and noticing the similarity to software development and the true game, it hit him one day in the midst of a game (it was most likely a legal hit, as there are few illegal hits in Rugby - this ain't Football).

Scrum - in Rugby:  a play that commences after a pause in play (and we ain't goin' stop for just anything - this ain't Football) where the two opposing teams discuss in an orderly fashion the true p…

And they called it Scrum (iteration 2)

See also:  And they called it Scrum (iteration 5)
I'm sitting here drinking a Big Orange and thinking about Scrum.  How much does Andy's monologue, What it Was, Was Football sound like your management or C-level?

Why did they call this lightweight process (that later became know as an Agile process framework) Scrum?  I don't know - but allow me some revisionist historical fiction, and I'll tell you.

Scrum by definition is a play in the real sport of Rugby.  I think Jeff Sutherland (roots of Scrum) may be a Rugby fan.  Being an observant guy and noticing the similarity to software development and the true game, it hit him one day in the midst of a game (it was most likely a legal hit, as there are few illegal hits in Rugby - this ain't Football).

Scrum - in Rugby:  a play that commences after a pause in play (and we ain't goin' stop for just anything - this ain't Football) where the two opposing teams discuss in an orderly fashion the true possession …

And they called it Scrum (iteration 1)

See also:  And they called it Scrum (iteration 5)

I'm sitting here drinking a Big Orange and thinking about Scrum.  How much does this monologue sound like your management or C-level?





And they call it Football (YouTube). Andy Griffith's famous 1953 stand-up monologue about college football. It has become one of the most beloved comedy recordings of all time. The illustrations used in this video were drawn by George Woodbridge, a Mad Magazine artist.

Listen to Andy (what Dialect is that?) mentally map Football to Scrum.

I grew up in the shadow (pulse 85 miles) of Pilot Mountain, NC.

... see next iteration of this topic ...

Boundaries, Location & Navigation

I think the theme for today is Boundaries, Location and Navigation.

I'm working for a mapping company, wonder if I need a vacation? A little distance from work could provide perspective.  Perhaps my reptilian-brain and monkey-brain are overtaking the Homo-brain, it happens when they are working out a deep problem.

I noticed that Navteq was at CES - here's an excerpted twitter stream:

Location is so much more than Navigation. Stop by and see us at booth #36062 and find out why.

@ Location is so much more than Navigation. Stop by and see us at booth #36062 and find out why. // Where's booth? need direct'n

@ We're in the upper level South Hall next to Garmin_ Look forward to seeing you!

@ Location is so much more than Navigation. I was funnin ya ya gave a location but I need navigational aids - maybe its versa vise

Now I happen to believe that there is more to location than coordinates.  But is Location so much more than Navigation? …

Good Fences & Good Neighbors

I'm always amazed at people who quote "Good fences make good neighbors" and don't know that they should be doing so with irony in their voice.  Had they studied the poem, rather than the cliff notes, they would likely have gotten that irony is required when quoting Mr Frost's Mending Wall.

An asside on the Roman God Terminus - the god of boundaries.

The festival of the Terminalia was celebrated in Rome and in the country on the 23rd of February.  The neighbors on either side of any boundary gathered around the landmark [the stones which marked boundaries], with their wives, children, and servants; and crowned it, each on his own side, with garlands, and offered cakes and, bloodless sacrifices. In later times, however, a lamb, or sucking pig, was sometimes slain, and the stone sprinkled with the blood. Lastly, the whole neighborhood joined in a general feast.


Related Post:  To build fences or to irragate.

To build Fences - or to Irragate

I love driving from the east coast to Denver, CO.  Interstate 70 ("The I70" if you live in LA - or are an actor playing a southerner in a drama on TV) is a great study in differences.  Think about the saying - "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" as you drive the interstate through Missouri, then Kansas, and enter Colorado.  At the bordor of Colorado (a fence of an abstract nature) there is a sign that reads "Welcome to Colorful Colorado."

It is a very colorful state - they just don't use Green in their palette very often.  Not that Kansas at this point is much greener.  It is windier.  Although it's not that Kansas is windy, it's that Missouri sucks (rim shot please).

There is a point at which the farmers have to start irrigation just to make grass grow - this point is somewhere behind you, when you're traveling west and see the Colorful Colorado sign. John Wesley Powel tells us it's the 100th Meridian. Did you…

Pearls of wisdom on: The Nature of Government

My father-in-law just sent this - I don't know who compiled the list but it is a wonderful list.  Lot's of Twain.  Are you going to read his recently published autobiography (posthumously published 100 years)?  And that Anonymous guy is witty.

I found it funny that Amazon was advertising "The Autobiography of Mark Twain (Perennial Classics)." How did the book get into that category so quickly?

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress. 
-- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
-- Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But, then, I repeat myself. 
  -- Mark Twain 

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and
trying to lift himself up by the handle.
  -- Winston Churchill

 5. A government wh…

What competes with an iPad?

Well it's that time of year again,  Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas time, where all the companies roll out their iPad killers (circa 2010 & 2011).  If it were circa 2008 the theme would be iPhone killers, but we have progressed as a society.

One great quote I read on the web was from Steve Martin in reference to CES - "Saw large wooden device that can fling boulders over castle walls. iPad killer."


There are great minds trying to help companies unseat the Great and Powerful Oz ... uh Jobs, but even they are missing the silver slippers (that got ruby-ized for the Technicolor movie).  Note dear reader that I have a personal misconception that all allegories in America stem from the Wizard of Oz and I subscribe to the Monitery reform allegory of Frank Braum.
I have gone so far as to require people on my teams to watch the movie and eat popcorn in order to better understand the idioms of their village idiot.

Quick Toto, into the twister (worm hole) and back to the …

Some fun videos about Agile & Scrum

Just a lose collection of fun/funny and sometime informative videos about Agile / Scrum and software development.

An Agile Law Commercial about how to handle crying in a retrospective.

Developer abuse.

Automatic build process.

Hit and Run build Breaker.


High Moon Studios – An Agile Game Developer What is Scrum? A group of self-anointed experts on Scrum in game development do their best to avoid answering the question.

Impediment Monkey. Hey, I think I know the impediment monkey!


An Agilist meets a Waterfaller.


Mingle from ThoughtWorks Studios on a Nintendo Wii

Try another way.


5-Steps to Project Success (Seriously!)


Don't know what you don't know An excerpt from a software development speech that Jim McCarthy gave to Microsoft Consulting when he was in charge of C++ (now Visual Studio).

What's the name of the project?

In this movie "I want to run an agile project" we follow the experiences of one such brave project leader, Luke, as he has many different encounters throu…