The term “Waterfall” highlights a problem, not a method, for software delivery

When the “Waterfall” diagram was first drawn, it was one engineer’s attempt to point out why the current way of delivering software was flawed. In his 1970 paper MANAGING THE DEVELOPMENT OF LARGE SOFTWARE SYSTEMS, Dr. Winston Royce only drew the “Waterfall” to explain the problem and then give some ideas on how to fix it. His basic premise being, with a gated approach, once you move downstream it’s hard to return upstream. And the more you try to do before each gate, the harder this gets. Royce goes on to redraw the diagram to show a number of feedback loops which he felt were necessary to incorporate. As new information is…

InfoQ interview me about my new book

It was my pleasure to be interviewed by InfoQ’s Ben Linders and Rafiq Gemmail about my new book – The Agile Developer’s Handbook. In the interview, they ask about my motivations for writing the book, what I view as today’s key practices for an Agile team and where I see things heading in the future. The full article can be found here

The Agile Developer’s Handbook

After many thousands of work units, measured in cups of tea and coffee drunk, I present The Agile Developer’s Handbook. A playbook which gives a team everything it needs to get off the ground with Agile and Lean thinking. It can be purchased here direct from the publisher and at any of the reputable online bookstores. The preface gives a glimpse of what it’s all about, hope you enjoy! Agile thinking has caused a fundamental shift in how we deliver software. The aim of this book is to offer the reader a pragmatic, easy-to-follow approach to mastering this transformative way of working. It’s roughly divided into three sections to reflect the three…

My blogging hiatus explained

I haven’t written a blog post for a while, but it isn’t because I’m not writing. Late last year my mind turned to what I’d do in 2017 to challenge myself. I’d been toying with the idea of writing a book for a while, some kind of biz fic horror appealed. Something like “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with Lean/Agile”. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about… “You’ve made it through the sewers with minimal damage, do you: 1. Run the Daily Survivor Standup (turn to page 23), 2. Have a Weekly Kills Review (turn to page 10), 3. Run a Headshot Retrospective (turn to page 52)”. I’d even discussed…

coach facepalm

Five ways I’ve fucked up as a coach

Lets face it, whatever your profession, you don’t always get things right. What’s probably more important than the fuck up itself, is how quickly you learn and recover from it. Here are some of the things that I haven’t got right over the last few years. If you feel like sharing some of yours, please use the comments to do so. 1. Allowing bad behaviour in a team to go on for too long The storming stage of the team can see conflict amongst team members as boundaries are tested. This is all part of a team’s formation process. In most cases the team will gel and they’ll move through it. Unfortunately, sometimes a…

Standards and the definition of done

Without standards there can be no kaizen, Taiichi Ohno. Kaizen is a Japanese word that we can translate as “change for the better”. It’s widely interpreted as meaning “continuous improvement” when referring to process or flow. As Taiichi Ohno (father of the Toyota Production System or TPS) highlights, to improve, you first need to have a baseline standard. From the TPS perspective, standards and the improvement of said standards, relate to two aspects: Process – the work carried out at a particular step on the production line. Flow – the overall flow through the production line from end-to-end. So, if we’re to translate this to cross-functional product teams, our team can determine…

The ScrumMum – an agile adoption anti-pattern

Whichever way you look at it, if you’ve ever heard yourself talking to your team and uttering the words “I’m not your mother”, it’s probably not a good thing. Even if you’re actually a Mum and have the healthy intention of creating independent and highly-functioning people – ready and equiped to face the world on their own two feet – having to tell someone who isn’t your progeny that you’re not their Mother means: 1. There is a clear case of mistaken identity and 2. The aforementioned person(s) clearly aren’t in a place of independence or higher functioning yet. If you’re their ScrumMaster and you’re saying these words, then you may…

Early distributed communication device

Portals and other tools for distributed working.

We’re a team distributed between different cities who collaborate and work closely together. We’re a distributed team, but shy away from using the term “remote workers”, because one thing we definitely aim not to do is act remotely from each other. We are a highly collaborative, cross-functional team who like to maintain fast feedback loops. Here are some of the ways that help maintain a close working relationship. Technologies that help us collaborate Firstly, we work on high spec laptops, this means we’re very mobile. We also operate Activity Based Working in our offices, i.e. we don’t have fixed desks, we do have neighbourhoods, but can work at any desk we…

Do, or do not. There is no try

“Do, or do not. There is no try”, says Master Yoda in a pivotal scene from the movie The Empire Strikes Back. When Luke, his protégée, goes onto complain about his Master’s general insensitivity to how big the task in hand is, Yoda demonstrates it is in fact possible by lifting Luke’s submerged spaceship out of the swamp. Luke’s response is “I can’t believe it”, to which Yoda replies, “that is why you fail”. On the surface what Yoda is saying sounds harsh. I believe he is merely instructing Luke that he already has the necessary skills and discipline. If Luke believed in himself, he’d likely succeed. This doesn’t mean he…