February 21, 2012

Kickass tweets from #AgileIndia2012 #Agile #Scrum

by Sampath Prahalad

Here are some Kickass quotes (in the form of tweets) from the recently concluded 3 day Agile India 2012 conference (my experience at the conference on Day 1Day 2 and Day 3) at Le Meridean, Bangalore.

Most of them were quotes that the presenters came up with during the course of their talks and workshops. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did and get to learn from them.

Top contributors for the kickass quotes: Rebecca Parsons, Tathagat Varma and Scott Ambler.

Disclaimer 1: These are in no particular order or preference.

Disclaimer 2: When I am not sure of the conference speaker who came up with the quote, I have put the name of the person who tweeted it.

Agile Work Culture 

February 19, 2012

My Experience at #AgileIndia2012 – Day 3.

by Sampath Prahalad

The third and final day of the Agile India 2012 conference being held at Le Meridean, Bangalore. The learning experience got better and reached a crescendo today.

Here are some of the talks and workshops that I attended. Some were excellent and some good.

  • Exploratory testing for Agile teams by Pradeep Soundararajan.
  • Launching a Minimum Viable Product in a month.
  • Coaching: Slowing down to speed up by Rahul Sawhney.
  • Lean: Reduce Waste Campaign by Belkis Vasquez-McCall from McInzie.
  • High Five Driven development by Peder Soholt from Norway
  • Agile Scaling model: Be as Agile as you need to be by Scott Ambler
  • Fun with Agile Gaming by Vibhu Srinivasan of SolutionsIQ.

Read on to know 3-4 key learning points from each of these talks / workshops.

Continue reading

February 19, 2012

My experience at #AgileIndia2012 – Day 2

by Sampath Prahalad

I have been attending the 3 day Agile India 2012 conference. Here is a brief write up of my experiences of Day 2 and is a sequel to ‘My experiences on Day 1‘.

Handpicking from the many lectures that were going on, here are the ones that I attended.

  • Agile: Not the easy way out, but it works by Rebecca Parsons, the CTO of ThoughtWorks.
  • Distributed Agile: Making it work by William Rowden of Solutions IQ
  • The continuing adventures of Yahoo’s Agile transformation by Keith Nottonson of Yahoo.
  • A Retrospective of Retrospectives. A discussion facilitated by Chirag Doshi of ThoughtWorks.
  • Workplay: The gamified future of Agile development by Matthew Philip

Below, I shall list few main points that I walked out with from each session. A couple might lead to separate blogs, but I will save that for later.

Continue reading

February 18, 2012

My experience at AgileIndia 2012 – Day 1

by Sampath Prahalad

The AgileIndia 2012 conference got underway on the 17th of Feb 2012 at the Le Meridean, Bangalore. It is a 3 day conference ending on Sunday, the 19th of Feb 2012.

Talks are from many eminent people in the Agile communities. A good number of talks from folks at Thoughtworks (Rebecca Parsons(CTO),  Chirag Doshi), Rory McCorkle of PMI, William Rowden from SolutionsIQ, Keith Nottonson from Yahoo to name a few.

The ones that I attended on 17th Feb 2012 and my brief lessons learnt from them are listed below.

  • Theory of Constraints. An interesting Talk by Masa K Maeda
    1. Identify the Constraint: Any process moves at the speed of the slowest step. That step is the constraint.
    2. Exploit the Constraint: The person working on the constraint skips all non value add tasks.
    3. Subordinate everything else: Slow down everything upstream and downstream of the constraint. This reduces wastage and increases quality(because the other steps have more time to complete their work)
    4. Elevate the Constraint: Brainstorm on the constraint and improve the process. Encourage Identify steps that remove or speeden up the constraint.
    5. Find a new Constraint: Back to Step 1.
  • Lean Workflow: A parable in pictures. An engrossing talk by William Rowden of SolutionsIQ.
    1. Basics of Lean Kanban. Get them here
    2. Types of waste in software development: Partially done work, extra processes, extra features, task switching, waiting due to lack of information, defects. Disclaimer: Do not use the term ‘waste’, however to refer to these within the team. No one wants their work to be called a ‘Waste’.
    3. Limit the Work in Progress. Each person in the team works on 1 task so that the context switching time is eliminated. Context switching also causes tasks to get extended beyond the actual time needed.
    4. Many times, when neither Scrum nor Lean Kanban would work best, take a look at Scrumban.
  • Converting Chickens to Pigs. A talk by Anila George of Nokia Siemens.
    • In an Agile world, the Project manager ends up with a feeling of no control over the team.
    • To get over this and to get a better sense of involvement, he/she can do a bunch of small things that go a long way in attaining the trust of the team.
    • Take a look at the steps that can be taken. Click here.

All in all, an enriching first day at the Agile India 2012 conference.


February 18, 2012

Path for Middle management chickens to become pigs.

by Sampath Prahalad

Attended a talk on the topic above by Anila George at the Agile India 2012 Conference. It was quite informative and thought provoking.

Just a quick definition of Chickens and Pigs in the Agile methodology.

Pigs: Anyone who is committed and responsible for the day to day work in the Scrum team. These are people who work on the team and whose tasks and activities contribute towards the success or failure.

Chickens: Managers and other stakeholders who do not directly contribute to the success of the sprint.

Click here for story on why the terminology was coined.

As a company transitions from a Waterfall software development model to Agile, the middle managers who are used to the ‘Command and Control’ type of management suddenly feel a sense of helplessness, which could cause anxiety, frustration and even boredom in the new ‘Team empowerment’ model.

Here are some steps that these chickens could take to become pigs and contribute effectively (in no particular order of preference) Continue reading

February 12, 2012

Value Stream Mapping: Analyze and Eliminate delays

by Sampath Prahalad

Value Stream Mapping (or VSM) is an effective way to graphically determine how much time is spent on Real productive work against the overheads within a Manufacturing or Process Stream. Every step in a process,  the time associated with the step and the time taken between two consecutive steps is represented graphically. Once this is done, the delays or overheads between the steps can be analyzed and eliminated or reduced.

Excerpt from Wikipedia for VSM

Value stream mapping is a lean manufacturing technique used to analyze and design the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer. At Toyota, where the technique originated, it is known as “material and information flow mapping”. It can be applied to nearly any value chain.

See the below video for Value Stream Mapping, highly simplified

Info Tidbit: This is one of the topics for the PMI-ACP certification.

February 6, 2012

Wanna try out Scrum? Some options here to manage it.

by Sampath Prahalad

So, you have decided to take the plunge into Scrum, but do not want to spend money on a Scrum management tool like ScrumWorks, Rally or VersionOne?

Here are the different options.

  1. Use the whiteboard and Sticky Notes. This is the simplest option. The whiteboard will also act as an Information Radiator for anyone who wants to know the status. Pete Deemer from Scrum Alliance highly recommends this approach over the others for its simplicity.
  2. If you have a distributed team, you cannot use the whiteboard. The next simple option is to use Excel and put it on Google Docs so that everyone can see and update simultaneously. You can move over to more sophisticated tools once the need arises. Below are some Excel templates.
  3. If you want to try out a tool for managing Scrum, go with an open source tool like Jira. Jira can be customized for Scrum. I have not tried it but here is a step by step procedure for doing so.
January 31, 2012

Rules and Best Practices for the Daily Scrum / Stand-up meeting

by Sampath Prahalad

We all know the 3 questions that are to be answered in the daily Scrum meeting.

  1. Yesterday: What did you work on since the last Scrum?
  2. Today: What will you be working on till the next Scrum?
  3. In my way: What impediments are you facing?

Below are some Written Rules and some Good practices for the daily scrum meet. Continue reading

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