We are back from backpacking on Isle Royale. Simply awesome.  Today, we feature a discussion with Tom Henricksen.  You know Tom from the Agile Online Summit and the Dev Ops Online Summit however Tom is more than just the Summits. Today we discuss learning and then get into whether hybrid working scenarios are all they are cracked up to be. I am not sure we agreed.



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The SPaMCAST 596 features our interview with Tom Henricksen. Tom brings the industry the DevOps and the Agile Online Summits and is an active thought leader in the agile community.  We talked about how events like his Summits foster learning and sharpening the saw. Tom suggests that tuning your skills and capabilities has never been more important as the economy struggles to get going again. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 581 features a discussion on whether most agile transformations have provided teams with the technical skills to be successful with agile. Kim Pries, the Software Sensei, Jeremy Berriault, QA Corner, and I had a wide-ranging discussion covering experimentation, learning and both personal and management responsibility. 

Business Agility Conference is sponsoring this Podcast!  

Dates: March 11-12, 2020

Location: New York City, 117 West 46th Street (more…)


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SPaMCAST 576 features a discussion on learning and experimentation with Kim Pries.  Kim has coded, tested, lead, and is an author. He has also delivered pointed advice as the Software Sensei.  Today we discussed the relationship between learning and experimentation which is at the heart of growing as you practice software development. (more…)

Shu Ha Ri

I spend several hours every week running – on purpose. I don’t run very fast, which means when I have the occasional fall because my mind wanders, I inflict very little damage to the ground. This is a preamble to letting you know that I have lots of time to think when I run (which is the reason the ground occasionally gets in my way). Recently I have been thinking about just how rigorously practitioners need to follow processes, methods, and frameworks and when it makes sense to tweak processes to fit the culture. (more…)

Mindset Book Cover

We are quickly closing in on the end of our re-read of Mindset.  I anticipate two more weeks (Chapter 8 and a round up).  The next book in the series will be Holacracy.  After my recent interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I realized that I had only read extracts from Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson, therefore we will read (first time for me).

Today, we review Chapter 7 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  Chapter 7, titled “Parents, Teachers, Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From? explores the impact of some of the most intimate and earliest relationships on our mindsets.Understanding how parents, teachers, and coaches affect mindsets helps us learn to lead change. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 399 features our essay titled, Storytelling: Developing The Big Picture for Agile Efforts. Agile reminds us that the focus of any set of requirements needs to be on an outcome rather than a collection of whats and whos.  Storytelling is a powerful tool to elevate even the most diehard requirements analyst from a discussion of individual requirements to a discussion of outcomes. Before we can generate a backlog composed of features, epics, and user stories, we need to understand the big picture.

Our second column is a visit to Gene Hughson’s Form Follows Function Blog.  We discussed an entry titled A Meaningful Manifesto for IT.  Do we need a manifesto to know that how well we are meeting the needs of our customers is a reflection of how fit IT is for purpose? Perhaps the answer is yes, if for no other purpose than to ensure we make sure that what we deliver is not a waste of money.

Anchoring the cast this week is the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses the role of deliberate practice in increasing the capability and capacity of teams. Kim’s provides practical advice on improving team performance.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we begin the Re-read Saturday of  Kent Beck’s XP Explained, Second Edition with a discussion of the Preface and Chapter 1.  These sections provide a definition of XP and context for the diving into the principles and techniques. Using the link to XP Explained when you buy your copy to read along will support both the blog and podcast. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog (www.tcagley.wordpress.com) to catch up on past installments of Re-Read Saturday.


The next Software Process and Measurement Cast, #400!, features our interview with Jim Benson. Jim and I talked about personal Kanban, micromanagement, work-in-process limits, pattern matching, pomodoro and more. This was a marvelous interview to commemorate our first 400 shows!

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 395 features our essay on productivity.  While productivity might not be the coolest subject, understanding the concept is critical to every company’s and every worker’s financial well-being.

Gene Hughson brings another entry from his Form Follows Function blog to the Software Process and Measurement Cast. Gene discusses the idea of accidental innovation.  Gene suggests that innovation is not a happy accident, but is a result of a process, structure, and technology that can enhance innovation. However, it can just as easily get in the way.

In our third column this week, Kim Pries, the Software Sensei, brings us a discussion of how software developers leverage assimilation and accommodation in the acquisition of knowledge.


Peabody Library

Peabody Library – So many books, so little time.

We live and work in a dynamic era. In the software development field we are experiencing changes across the board in computing power, management styles, frameworks and techniques. Movements such as Agile and lean are just the tip of the iceberg. In order to build a base of knowledge and grow, IT practitioners need to read, listen, collaborate and experiment. While blogs, podcasts and conferences are great tools to explore the cutting edge, books are an important tool for building or expanding a base of personal knowledge.

I introduced the Re-Read Saturday feature on the Software Process and Measurement blog to help expose both my readers and myself to at least a few of the most important books. We have now re-read Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and we finished Kotter’s Leading Change last week. I choose the first two books, and it is your turn to choose the next book. Over the last twelve weeks I asked you to send me the two books that you felt were most influential to your career. A few observations:

  1. The list has 30 entries.
  2. There was NO runaway leader on the list.
  3. The first five on the list each got two mentions.

Since there was no clear winner, I have created a poll. The poll will allow each person to vote for three books. Pick the top three books that have had major impact on your career, OR perhaps the books you always wanted to read. The book that is on the top of the list on February 14 will be the next to be featured on Re-Read Saturday.

Different training tools are sometimes needed!

Different training tools are sometimes needed!

Organizational transformations, like an Agile transformation, require the acquisition of new skills and capabilities. Gaining new skills and capabilities in an effective manner requires a training strategy. The best transformations borrow liberally from all categories of training strategies to best meet the needs of the transformation program and the culture of the organization. The four major training strategies typically used in Agile (and other IT) transformations have their own strengths and weaknesses. Those attributes make the strategies better for some types of knowledge and skill distribution than other strategies.

Training strategies by use.

Training strategies by use.

Lectures and presentations are the ubiquitous feature of the 21st century corporate meeting. These techniques are useful for spreading awareness and, to a lesser extent, to introduce concepts. The reduced efficiency of the lecture to introduce concepts is a due to trainers that are not trained educators, conference/training rooms that are not as well appointed as college lecture halls and learners that tend to pay only partial attention whenever possible. The partial attention problem is a reflection of email and text messages generated from their day job. Difficulties occur when distributed meetings are not supported with proper telecommunications.

Active learning and experiential learning are both excellent strategies for building and supporting skills and capabilities. Each method can include games, activities, discussions and lecture components. The combination of methods for generating and conveying knowledge keeps the learners focused and involved. Involvement helps defeat the common problem of partial attention by keeping the learners busy. The scalability of the two techniques differs, which can lead to a decision to favor one technique over the other. Many transformation programs blend both strategies. For example, I recently observed a program with group learning session (active learning) with assignments to be done outside the class as part of the learner’s day-to-day activities then debriefed in community of practice sessions (experiential learning).

Mentoring is a specialized form of experience-based learning. Because mentoring is generally a one-on-one technique, it is generally not scalable to for large-scale change programs, however it a good tool to transfer knowledge from one person to another and an excellent tool to support and maintain capabilities. Mentoring is most often used for specialized skills rather than general skills that need to broadly distributed.

Transformation programs generally will need to use more than one training strategy. Each strategy makes sense for specific scenarios. The of crafting an overall strategy requires understanding of which skills, capabilities and knowledge need to be fostered or built within the organization, then the distribution of the learners, the tools available and finally the organization’s culture. Once you understand the requirements, the training strategy can be crafted using a mixture of the training techniques.