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SPaMCAST 499 will feature our essay on trust and coaching. Coaches are among most effective tools used to help teams improve. In SPaMCAST 496 – Sam Laing I highlighted the need for trust between a coach and the team or person they are coaching. Without trust, a coach will not be very effective.  Two powerful and related tools!

In the rocker as they call it stock car racing is Wolfram Müller. Wolfram co-authored Hyper-Productive Knowledge Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach with Steve Tendon.  We talk about Chapter 23 titled Reliable Scrum and Reliable Kanban. Wolfram can be found on LinkedIn at https://bit.ly/2qXvgnw

Anchoring the cast is the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  Kim discusses software safety. Tools and software languages can have a major impact on software safety and all of our lives depend on software these days!

Re-Read Saturday News

In week 14 of our re-read of L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around!  we begin Part IV of Turn The Ship Around and tackle chapter 21. The first three parts of the book bring the story to the beginning of deployment of the Santa Fe.  Part IV picks up from that point! (more…)

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SPaMCAST 472 features our interview with Mike Harris.  We discussed his new book, The Business Value of Software. We discussed the definition of value and why value matters! In reality, software development, enhancements, and maintenance that don’t deliver value are a waste. Therefore it behooves all of us to understand value, how to recognize it, and how to measure it! (more…)

Sometime the intangible obscures the tangible.

Sometime the intangible obscures the tangible.

In the Software Process and Measurement Cast 37, Kenji Hiranabe suggested that both software and the processes were intangible and opaque.  In SPaMCAST 36, Phil Armour put forth the thought that software was a container for knowledge.  Knowledge is only tangible when demonstrated, or in software terms, executed.  Combining both ideas means that a software product is a harness for knowledge to deliver business value; delivered using what is perceived to be an intangible process. The output of the process is only fully recognizable and testable for the brief period that the code executes. On top of all that, there is every expectation that the delivery of the product will be on-time, on-budget, high quality and be managed and orderly.  No wonder most development managers have blood pressure issues!

Intangibility creates the need for managers and customers to apply controls to understand what is happening in a project and why it is happening.  The level of control required for managers and customers to feel comfortable will cost a project time, effort and money that could be better spent actually delivering functionality (or dare I say it, reducing the cost of the project).  Therefore, finding tools and techniques to make software, and the process used to create software, more tangible and more transparent to scrutiny, is generally a good goal.  I use the term “generally” on purpose. The steps taken to increase tangibility and transparency need be less invasive than those typically seen in command and control organizations. Otherwise, why would you risk the process change?

Agile projects have leveraged tools like WIKIs, standup meetings, big picture measurements and customer involvement as tools to increase visibility into the process and functional code as a tool to make their knowledge visible.  I will attest that when well-defined Agile processes are coupled with proper corporate culture, an environment is created that is highly effective for breaking down walls.  But, (and as you and I know, there had to be a “but”) the processes aren’t always well defined or applied with discipline and not all organizational cultures can embrace Agile methods. There needs to be another way to solve the tangibility and transparency problems without resorting to draconian command and control procedures that cost more than they are normally worth.

In his two SPaMCAST interviews, Mr. Hiranabe laid out two processes that are applicable across the divide defined by waterfall and Agile projects.  In 2007 on SPaMCAST 7, Kenji talked about mind mapping.  Mind mapping is a tool used to visualize and organize data and ideas.  Mind mapping provides a method for capturing data concepts, visualizing the relationships between them and, in doing so making ideas and knowledge tangible.  In the SPaMCAST 37, Kenji proposes a way to integrate kanban into the software development process.  According to WIKIPEDIA,  “Kanban is a signaling system to trigger action which in Toyota Production System leverages physical cards as the signal”.  In other words the signal is used to indicate when new tasks should start, and by inference, the status of current work.  Kenji does a great job at explaining how the kanban can be used in system development.  The bottom line is that the signal, whether physical or electronic, provides a low impact means of indicating how the development process is functioning and how functionality is flowing through the process. This increases the visibility of the process and makes it more tangible to those viewing from outside the trenches of IT.

Executed code that does what was expected is the ultimate evidence that we have successfully captured knowledge and harnessed it to provide the functionality our customer requested.  The sprint demos in SCRUM are a means of providing a glimpse into that knowledge and to build credibility with customers.  However if your project is not leveraging SCRUM, then daily or weekly builds with testing can be leveraged to provide some assurance that knowledge is being captured and assembled into a framework that functions the way that you would expect.  You should note that demos and daily builds are not an either/or situation.  Do both!

The lack of tangibility and lack of transparency of the process of capturing knowledge and building the knowledgeware we call software has been a sore point between developers and managers since the first line of code was written.  We are now finally getting to the point where we have recognized that we have to address these issues; not just from a command and control perspective, but also from a social engineering perspective.  Even if Agile as a movement was to disappear tomorrow, there is no retreat from integrating tools and techniques like mind mapping and kanban while embracing software engineering within the social construct of the organization and perhaps the wider world outside the organization.  Our goal is to make tangible what intangible, and visible that which is opaque.

Year Five Press Release (PDF)

For Immediate Release
January 23, 2012

Avon Lake, OH – The Software Process and Measurement Podcast (SPaMCAST) is celebrating its 170th episode after five years of interviewing many of the leaders in the software development world. The anniversary edition of SPaMCAST features an interview with Hillel Glazer, speaker, process guru and author of High Performance Operations.

SPaMCAST feature interviews have included:

  • Chris Hefley, Chief Executive Officer, Leankit Kanban, Bandit Software, LLC
  • Dean Leffingwell author of Scaling Software Agility and others
  • Peter Taylor  author of many books including The Lazy Project Manager
  • Elizabeth Harrin author, award winning blog, The Girl’s Guide to Project Management
  • Tim Lister, co-author of  Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies
  • David Anderson the author of  Agile Management for Software Engineering
  • Kent Beck, pioneer in Agile Methods
  • Scott Ambler, though leader in Test Driven Development
  • Ivar Jacobson, developer of Use Cases
  • Grady Booch, discussing Life, the Universe and Development

The Cast covers topics that deal with the challenges of how work is done in information technology organizations as they grow and evolve.  The show combines commentaries, interviews and feedback to serve up ideas, opinions, advice and facts.  In a nutshell, the Cast has provided and will continue to provide advice for and from practitioners, methodologists, pundits and consultants. The editor, Tom Cagley, is a leading consultant in software development process improvement, the Vice President of Consulting for the David Consulting Group, Past President of the International Function Point Users Group and co-author of Mastering Software Project Management.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast can be found at http://www.spamcast.net. It is also available on all major podcast services including iTunes and the Zune Marketplace. All previous episodes are available download.  The Cast currently enjoys 10,000 downloads a month, up 20% in the past year It is delivered as a free public service to the information technology community and has listeners across the globe.

Contact:
Thomas M. Cagley Jr.
Editor

Email: Spamcastinfo@gmail.com
Mobile: 440.668.5717
Skype ID: Thomas,Cagley.Jr