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Showing posts from 2018

Craftsman - is not the gender neutral term we men believe it to be

Pondering... why are gender "neutral" words such as craftsman are not as gender neutral as we men seem to think they are?
I've been personally trying to break myself from a bad habit... one that I've thought was not such a big  deal...  I use the term "guys" in mixed company to describe a group of people ... not yet a team.  In mentoring groups toward becoming a team, I reserve that term for groups that truly behave like a real team.  I was giving a presentation at a local special interest group and afterwards a person gave me some useful feedback... my usage of the term "guys" was distracting and verging on "off-putting" in the room of mostly females.  I needed to read the audience and the room - and choosing the proper term would help them to engage... what I truly desired.

I remember in the 1970s (yes this should date me) teachers in school told us that some words were considered gender neutral - I believe that "guys" was on…

When do we begin Colonoscopy on Code?

At what age should we be inspecting all this code full of colons?  Sometime in 1970's the software world had a lot of colons evolving - 1973 for the popular C Language and its family...

That tells us that in 2023 at age 50 the C Language should begin Colonoscopy procedures, yearly.  It's not a pleasant thought but it is the recommendation.
Now some of the more modern (non-legacy) code may not need this extreme level of screening... but how would one know - unless one probes around in all those semicolons.

Now, many Proctologist have worked to make this procedure less stressful, what have we done in the software community to improve patient outcomes, and satisfaction with our inspection and visualizations?

Shall we work on that?

A Beloved Community Fixture

Does your Agile community have a local hub, a place where you are 80% sure you will run into almost everyone in the local universe if you attend enough events, meet ups, and bar tabs?

Mine does, ... let's test this out...  I will tell you my locations - and if you know much about it, let's see if you can ... guess, ... no, not guess,  predict, no... forecast - can you forecast the name of our local hub of Agile community?

I'm in Grapevine, TX ... let me broaden that for you...  Dallas / Fort Worth.

Now if you have any experience with the DFW area ... been to user groups in the area or perhaps software development oriented conferences.... you may know the place where... like Cheers - where everybody knows your name.  Who is it?

Spoilers .... hi sweetie ... I will put the answer a bit further down the page.
I just read this article in INC. - Here's the Secret Sauce for Turning Your Business Into a Beloved Community FixtureBy Leigh Buchanan Editor-at-large, Inc. magazine.

Bob Dorough - you're my Hero!

I'm also a big fan of ZERO.

Heard today that Bob Dorough died at 94.  Few people know Bob... but everyone has heard his work... he's slightly famous for his writing and singing of School House Rock, the 1970s educational interstial cartoons.  I learned so much from Bob, and I've never gotten to thank him.  Perhaps I will go download some of his songs on iTunes.

My Hero - Zero
Here's what Apple has to say of Bob Dorough:
Although neglected and underexposed most of his life, Bob Dorough is an adventurous, risk-taking master of vocalese (the process of writing and singing lyrics to instrumental jazz solos) and scat singing who has directly or indirectly influenced Mark Murphy, Michael Franks, Mose Allison, and Kurt Elling. The Arkansas native started out on piano in the 1940s, then took up singing in the early '50s (when he played for boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, an entertainer at the time). From 1954-1955, Dorough lived in Paris, where he recorded with singer Blossom De…

Exercise:: The mythical benefits of Multi-Tasking

Many people are great multitaskers... why isn't everyone?  Well it may come down to the perceptions of the actor - not the observer.  I've been asked for exercises that will demonstrate this benefit perception dissonance.

Quick Overview

Time three people perform simple tasks (sequential): recite the alphabet, count to 100 by 3s, name the colors of the rainbow in order 3 times.  (one sequencing task at a time - measure the cumulative time of all 3 tasks)

Now introduce a Switcher (4th volunteer) when they call out "SWITCH" the people change task (the person reciting the alphabet, switches to pick up the counting by 3s, who switches to naming the colors, who switches to the alphabet, etc.  The Switcher should have at least 4 switches before the crew finishes all tasks.  Measure the cumulative time.

I suggest they perform the task visibly in front of the observers, by writing on a whiteboard their task.  This allows for the whole group to share the experience, and observe…

The 3 Laws of Clown Nose

Agile Games conference is a laboratory of  experiential experimental education - also know by the name learning.

Having supplied the clown noses to the conference for a few years now, I'm setting down the laws - the behaviors one can commonly observe in correlation to the clown nose phenomenon.

The  (3)  Laws of Clown Nose

1- Clown Nose has Inertia, people desire for our clown nose (culture) to remain the same, to stay consistent - why?  I feel it's because "fitting in", that desire that many of us have is going to be easier if the cultural expectations remain constant.

2 - Once applied - one does not discuss Clown Nose.  This law comes from deep within the Matrix, "there is no spoon" - not from Fight Club. [ hat tip to Richard Kasperowski ]

3 - Clown Nose results in oppositional forces to unique and challenging behaviors.  Not always equal and opposite as in physics, yet the stronger the clown nose (cultural norm), the more equal - your results may vary.


Committed Sardines Game

The Committed Sardine By Ian Jukes 
A blue whale is the largest mammal on earth. The adult blue whale is the length of 2½ Greyhound buses and weighs more than a fully loaded 737. A little known fact is that a blue whale is so large that when it decides to turnaround, it can take 3 to 5 minutes to turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

As a result, some people have drawn a strong parallel between blue whales and our school system. It just seems to take forever to turn them around. There as some people who just don’t believe the public school system can be turned around.

But compare the way a blue whale turns around (slowly) with how a school of. . . Sardines – which is the same or even greater mass than a blue whale. . . A school of sardines can almost turn instantly around – how do they do it?

The answer is simple. If you take a careful look at a school of sardines you will notice that although all the fish appear to be swimming in the same direction, at any one time, there will b…

Team Performance vs CI Check-in

What - if any - is the correlation of the frequency and style of Continuous Integration "check-in" and team performance in Software Development?

Should these two behaviors be linked in any way?  I believe there will be a high correlation - pondering if it has been studied.

Why should these two behaviors have a positive correlation?  Because they both reflect collaboration, and commitments to the goal.

Dave Farley's post
Continuous Integration and Feature Branching got me pondering this...  read it and let's discuss.
See Also:
2017 State of DevOps Report authors Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Alanna Brown and Nigel Kersten

Trunk Based Development - a style of CI that works for Agile.

A Game of Experience - Scrum

Presented in OpenSpace at Agile Games 2018 for FUN and Feedback.

This game design is not focused where you might assume - at training people how to "do" Scrum.  The inventors of the game, Tim Snyder and Derek Lane, are focused upon the experience of Scrumming, the group dynamics of being a scrum team.  The game has been designed, and is being refined with the objective of allowing groups of people that know how to do Scrum, to experience some of the Ah-HA moments that mature Scrum team learn after many, laborious retrospectives.  By compressing the group dynamic into a game with the glorious "happen-chance" cards causing random, yet all too common software development events, playing this game for a few hours can give you the deep insights that may only be achieved after months or years of real-life time developing products.  Learning doesn't require time... * Al Shalloway.

One of the core questions Tim & Derek have been pondering:  How does one gain experi…

What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

The Case Against Scrum's Sprint Practice - Another Look

In the excellently written article  Dark Scrum:  The Case Against the Sprint, Ron Jeffries' does a wonderful job of explaining a common problem of Scrum's mainstay practice, the Sprint.  As I read the article I could only think of many managers I've seen over my years that didn't trust Scrum, the teams, or the coaching to deliver.  And feeling pressure to make deadlines imposed from little information (desire more than empirical evidence) had reverted to past heavy handed pressure techniques to make a deadline.  After all it was their career that was on the line.

To summarize (and you would do better to just click the link and read it):  As an exercise in explaining the inverse of "Good Scrum", Ron uses the term "Dark Scrum".  In this inverted world, Ron makes the case that the Sprint is a bad practice, because a manager expecting the common faster progress (Jeff Sutherland's statement “Twice the Work in Half the Time”) will demand that result.…

Are your Corporate Values Weaponized?

How would you know if your organizations values that you and other leaders have worked so hard to propagate have become weaponized exclusion and status quo control devices?

Certainly values are only positive - affirmations of our best selves. Could our values work against us?

Yes.  And you may know it only after it is too late... your culture will turn toxic.  The rising stars you spend energy to recruit will say a few months, maybe a year or two and leave (happy to get out).  Or you will force them out within months, because they are not a "good fit" to your culture.

This failure to "fit" is a sure sign.  Can the executives read the sign, does you HR department work to protect the status quo?  Hiring decisions use the "good fit" measure and then a few months after they made the mistake of hiring the employee they reverse the decision and fire for "bad fit."

As a "journeyman" agilist I've made conscious decision to go into companies…

Arena of Done - a Guide on Mind Settler platform

I'm talking a lot about the Definition of Ready and Done in the month of February, 2018.  I sense a trend... wonder what I'm getting ready for....

I helped a smidgen with Marijn van der Zee Arena of Done guides on the Mind Settler's platform (Get the Android App).

Here are the Web versions.

Preparing for the Arena of Done guide.
Arena of Done guide.

See Also:

Definition of Done - the Ty variant

Exercise:  Definition of Done

Webinar:  Collaboration at Scale - Definition of Ready and Done

Positive Deviance Snooper Goggles

I'm suffering from a prodigious cognitive dissonance - started a new gig with a company that's renown for their process, written up as the exemplar for Lean, has given us so many of the practices that underly the Agile mindset, etc.  and they really NEED some Agile coaching... they need it bad.

My personal coach has suggested I get a pair of Appreciative Inquiry/Positive Deviance Snooper goggles.  He's suggested this leather/brass PDS-12 model.

But they look a bit tip heavy for the headband - I assume they are design to be worn on a hard hat.

I'm liking this model...

But for a little bit more gold, I could get a scope... with better temporal resolution.

So - what do you think?

Definition of Done - the Ty varaint

Every time I meet Ty Crockett at an event he shakes my hand and mentions how many people he's helped to understand their team's Definition of Done or Ready using the card deck I create some years back.  He's not bragging (but he should be) he's thanking me.  But the fun thing is that Ty has evolved a better practice than I did.  Maybe it's the repetition and small variations that has lead to the improvement.  Yeah - I think that's it.

I may get this wrong ... but Ty's variation goes some thing like this...

Start with a big board. Divided into 3 sections.  Introduce the concept of Brainstorming... Add dividers to talk about how to organize the outputs of the brainstorm. 
I usually print out DoD cards but do not show them to the team until we have a discussion on the types of things they need to consider. For example: Here is a section out of the PSM course that I always ask teams to consider…

They create their own cards and ideas (on sticky notes). Ty brings out…

Webinar: Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done, Ready, and NO.

I was invited to participate in a Scrum Alliance Webinar.  Maybe you would like to listen to us in a discussion of techniques to collaborate at scale (remotely and with many people).  The topic is one that I've got some experience in discussions - yet I never seem to get to done...
Collaboration at Scale: Defining Done and Ready and NO for Distributed Teams
With Joel Bancroft-Connors, Agile Organizational Coach; David A. Koontz, Agile Transition Guide; and Luke Hohmann, CEO and Founder of Conteneo, Inc.

14 February 2018 11 a.m. ET (USA).

The Scrum Guide is pretty clear on the criticality of the definition of Done: "When a Product Backlog item or an Increment is described as "Done," everyone must understand what "Done" means. However, the Scrum Guide ALSO says that the definition of Done can "vary significantly per Scrum Team." This leads us to examine when and how the definition of Done should vary, how distributed teams should cr…

Is there only ONE "right" triangle?

I've been a fan of Triangle Man for some time... Then the other day... years, and decides later I saw this Hugh Lieber art work.

And once again I fell for Triangle Man.  And that got me thinking of the 3-4-5 right triangle... When I think of right triangles - it's the one I imagine...  although I spent many years using the classic drafting 30-60 degree triangle.

And then this sound track starts in the back of my mind...

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS Particle Man (Tiny Tunes) Lyrics Particle man, particle man
Doing the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
Particle man Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows, Particle man Triangle man, Triangle man
Triangle man hates particle man
They have a fight, Triangle wins
Triangle man Universe man, Universe man
Size of the entire universe man
Usually kind to smaller man
Universe man He's got a watch with a minute hand,
Millennium hand and an eon han…