Happy Birthday to the Software Process and Measurement Cast. SPaMCAST 583 marks the beginning of the Podcast’s 14th year!  The first podcast of year 14 features a three-way discussion between Susan Parente, Anthony Mersino, and myself. We discussed the pros and cons of hybridizing agile frameworks. Hybridizing agile approaches is a lightning rod concept in many circles. Susan, Anthony and I have different experiences and opinions on the topic. The conversation was spirited. (more…)

Christmas Lights

Not everything is linear

Value Stream Mapping originated in manufacturing. The diagrams we all know love can be traced back to Charles Knoeppel’s book Installing Efficiency Methods (1918). The problem of lifting this technique directly from manufacturing is that in knowledge work there are more shared people and resources, variability in processing time and path, and changing requirements. Mapping this morass gets messy and often frustrating. Strategies for addressing two common issues, shared people and resources and variability in processing time, are described below: (more…)

Freddie Clark Photo

Freddie Clark

At the end of most interviews on the Software Process and Measurement Cast, I ask my interviewee the following question —

If you had a magic want what two “things” would you change and why?”

I tailor the question to the topic each person is talking about. Still, it is basically the same question. Many times some of the greatest insights from the podcast happen while discussing this final question. This is my second experiment with a transcription tool. I would like your feedback on whether transcribing the interview or parts are useful.  Today I would like to share the text from how Freddie Clark answered the question during SPaMCAST 526. (more…)

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WSJF can’t go everywhere!

On March 10, 2015, I wrote an entry on Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF), in a nutshell,  WSJF allows you to prioritize units of work using the lean concept of cost of delay and duration/time to complete. The approach provides a consistent framework for prioritization. This is my favorite of the advanced quantitative approaches. Instead of rehashing an old article (go back and read it before continuing), we will examine a few of the pros and cons of this approach. (more…)

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Connect before ranking!

Simple forced ranking prioritization techniques are often sufficient. However, as the number of stakeholders with different perspectives grows or it becomes more difficult to differentiate between the priority stories or features a more complex approach is required. The matrix approach builds on the force ranking approach by formally adding a second dimension.  For example, a matrix could be constructed using the variables urgency and value. In the example below each of the variables is broken into three levels creating a 9-box matrix. The box at the top right has the highest implied probability and the box at the bottom left the least.  (more…)

List of Features

Prioritized List of Features

Prioritization is key to getting the right work done in the right order. Prioritization would be simple if there was only one point of view involved. One person with all of their built-in biases could line work up in the order they wanted it done from the highest priority to the lowest in the blink of an eye. However, the real world is rarely that simple and even if it was, the outcome of the one perspective approach might not be great, in part due to biases. For example, Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow points out that entrepreneurs fall prey to optimism bias, which makes it easy to take risks. Three macro-categories of approaches to prioritization are:  (more…)

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SPaMCAST 575 features our essay on the lightning-rod issue: hybridizing agile methods and techniques. We can all agree that fitting a model to an observed reality requires the flexibility to hybridize. Why do we it so wrong so often?

We will also have a visit from Jon M Quigley and his Alpha and Omega of Product Development column. Jon and I talked about Deming and his impact on our lives and a book club we are launching early next year.

Re-Read Saturday News (more…)