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ISMA 16

I am speaking at ISMA 16 today in Sao Paulo Brazil.  ISMA is a conference about measurement with strong undertones of process improvement and agile.  It is a great conference, held by a great group in a great city. Today we are sharing an updated version of an older essay published in 2014.  I will return to sew up centers of excellence next week. In preparation, I have a favor to ask. Have you ever seen a COE close down because its job was done?  I am very interested in your story — contact me at spamcastinfo@gmail.com.

 

Stakeholders Don’t Care How Hard A Story Is! (Nor Should They)

Clients, stakeholders, and pointy-haired bosses really do care about how long a project will take, how much the project will cost and by extension the effort required to deliver the project. What clients, stakeholders, and bosses don’t care about is how much the team needs to think or the complexity of the stories or features, except as those attributes affect the duration, cost, and effort.  The language they understand is months and dollars (or any other type of currency). Teams, however, need to speak in terms of complexity and code (programming languages). Story points are an attempt to create a common understanding.

When a team uses story points, t-shirt or other relative sizing techniques, they hash a myriad of factors together.  When a team decomposes a problem, they have to assess complexity, capability, and capacity in order to determine how long a story, feature or task will take (and therefore cost).  The number of moving parts in this mental algebra makes the outcome variable. That variability generates debates on how rational it is to estimate at this level that we will not tackle in this essay.  When the team translates their individual perceptions (that include complexity, capacity, and capability) into story points or other relative sizing techniques, they are attempting to share an understanding with stakeholders of how long and at what price (with a pinch of variability).  For example, if a team using t-shirt sizing and two week sprints indicate they can deliver 1 large story and 2 two medium or 1 medium and 5 small stories based on past performance, it would be fairly easy to determine when the items on the backlog will be delivered and a fair approximation on the number of sprints (aka effort, which equates to cost).

Clients, stakeholders, and bosses are not interested in the t-shirt sizes or the number of story points, but they do care about whether a feature will take a long time to build or cost a lot. The process of sizing helps technical teams translate how hard a story or a project is into words that clients, stakeholders, and bosses can understand into words that clients, stakeholders and bosses can understand intimately.

 

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SPaMCAST 516 features our interview with Nishi Grover Garg.  Nishi and I started by discussing the major differences in agile and non-agile testing and ended with a discussion of agile pods. This is a wonderfully idea-rich interview.

Note:  I am recording part of this episode remotely from a hotel in Brazil!

Nishi’s Bio:

Nishi is a Consulting Agile and Software testing trainer. With a decade of experience working in an Agile environment in different product-based companies, she has had a chance to work in all stages of software testing life cycle from a White box, Black box to Automation testing and Usability testing. Having now extended it to her full-time job, Nishi is a coach, trainer, and mentor in areas of Agile and software testing, specializing in conducting QA Induction boot-camps, ISTQB workshops, DevOps Foundation and Selenium Automation courses. She is certified by Agile Testing Alliance (ATA) as a CP-DOF, CP-SAT, CP-AAT, CP-MAT and by ISTQB as a Foundation and Advanced Test Analyst and likes to keep updating her skills periodically. She is also a passionate freelance writer and contributes to many online forums about new topics of interest in the industry like Techwell community’s AgileConnection.com, Stickyminds.com and many more. Check out her blog at http://www.testwithnishi.com to find her articles and catch up on her latest professional activities!

Contact information:

Blog: www.testwithnishi.com

Email: grover.nishi@gmail.com


Re-Read Saturday News

This week we begin our read of Bad Blood (buy your copy today https://amzn.to/2zTEgPq  and support the blog and the author).  Bad Blood is a new book for me, therefore a “read” rather than a re-read. We begin with the introductory material and a proposed plan for the read.

Week 1 – Approach and Introduction – https://bit.ly/2J1pY2t 
(more…)

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SPaMCAST 514 features our interview with John Clapham. John and I talked DevOps, people, agile, and how all those pieces fit together coherently or not. John even quoted Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. This is a big, fun, informative interview!

John Clapham is an experienced coach, trainer, and consultant, specializing in DevOps and Agile.  He helps teams to build great products, creating environments and systems which are effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. Often this means introducing Scrum, or developing a deeper understanding of the method and it’s principles.  John draws on broad experience as an engineer and lead, he has built web and enterprise applications in government, publishing, telecommunications, commerce, defense and public sector arenas.

Twitter:  @johnC_bristol

Web: http://www.cotelic.co.uk/

 

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we tackle Chapter 9 of The Checklist Manifesto.  The Save is the final chapter in the book.  Next week we will discuss our final thoughts and decide on the next book.  In chapter 9 Atul Gawande talks about his experiences with the surgical checklist he helped to create. The last chapter is a combination of emotion and evidence.

Remember to buy a copy of The Checklist Manifesto and READ along!

Current Installment:

Week 10 – The Savehttps://bit.ly/2NdhaXA (more…)

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SPaMCAST 512 marks the return of Jeff Dalton.  Jeff and I talked about the CMMI Version 2.0 and the Agile Performance Holarchy.  The CMMI is often maligned as promoting anti-agile behaviors. Jeff makes the case that Version 2.0 promotes agile.  We dive into the Agile Performance Holarchy during the second half of the interview. The Agile Performance Holarchy provides technology leaders with a model to guide agile adoption.  

Jeff Dalton

Jeff Dalton

Jeff Dalton is Chief Evangelist at AgileCxO.org, a Research and Development organization that studies agile leadership. He is a technology executive with over 30 years of experience as a CTO, CIO, VP of Product Development, and for that past fifteen years has been CEO of Broadsword and AgileCxO. He is an executive agile coach, agile assessor, and instructor, a regular conference speaker, and author of both “The Agile Performance Holarchy: An Operating System for Agile Leaders” and “The Guide to Scrum and CMMI: Improving Agile Performance with CMMI.” In his spare time, Jeff is an instrument-rated pilot and plays bass in a jazz band. He has degrees in music and computer science.  

Contact Jeff at:

Re-Read Saturday News

In week 8 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we read about building a usable checklist. In this chapter, Dr. Gawande puts all of the lessons learned in chapter 6 into action and tests the result.

We have three or four more weeks left in this re-read, which means it is time to start soliciting ideas for the next book. To date, Sandeep Koorse has suggested Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and Steven Adams has suggested Bad Blood – Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.  What are your suggestions? I will run the poll in two weeks!

Remember to buy a copy of The Checklist Manifesto and READ along!

Current Installment:

Week 8 – The Fix – https://bit.ly/2NeKyBE (more…)

Rent-seeking is like vacuuming up the money!

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that some people on a team are passengers and others play different, more involved roles. Being a passenger long-term on a team or in an organization is a form of rent-seeking and is not valued highly by others. Rent-seeking involves seeking to increase one’s share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. In a team, a rent-seeker will increase their share of the credit while minimizing the use or contribution of their own resources. In the popular comic strip Dilbert, the character Wally works very hard at being a rent-seeking passenger. In real life, I have known very few Wallys. Most passengers exist for a short period of time because they are learning a new concept or are changing roles. Long-term passengers on teams use the team’s inertia to minimize the amount of effort they need to expand. Long-term or professional passengers often employ reciprocity as a form of rent-seeking behavior to enhance and solidify their position in a team. (more…)

Sunset over Lake Erie

A sunset is a gift with no strings!

While there are many leadership types and models, one commonality is that the really great leaders have the ability to give and take feedback. The free flow of feedback is a form of reciprocity in which the gift is honest and well-meaning knowledge, advice, or guidance. Servant leadership requires this type of reciprocity. The servant leader works to empower and serve the people he or she leads while the free flow of feedback generates engagement and brings teams and organizations together. Generating reciprocity is an important skill that needs to be carefully cultivated by a leader. Servant leaders at the team level often use two basic tools to generate reciprocity: gift giving and content marketing. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 511 features our essay on reciprocity.  Reciprocal agreements are part of working and playing well with others that we begin learning on the playground and then bring to the office with us. There are many types of reciprocal agreements in a typical agile project.

Entries in the Reciprocity theme:

Reciprocity and Reciprocal Agreements In Action https://bit.ly/2MbxIP3

Five Reciprocal Agreements In Agile https://bit.ly/2MguslE

Reciprocity or Manipulation? Seven Simple Questions https://bit.ly/2CDotIa

Negative and Unhealthy Reciprocity https://bit.ly/2oZRp3v

Our second column features Kim Pries, the Software Sensei.  Kim discusses the use and impact of domain-specific languages.  The Software Sensei provides sage advice!

The final column this week introduces the Software Process and Measurement Cast listeners to Sandeep Koorse. Sandeep delivers advice on an innovative approach to ensure retrospectives deliver value.  Reach out to Sandeep at sandeep@koorse.com

Re-Read Saturday News (more…)