The annual developer conference Jfokus is always an almost overwhelming source of impressions. There is always lots of interesting presentations, and today was no exception. It's impossible to cover all of them, but today I attended three presentations that together formed a nice whole as they covered different aspects of IoT - Internet of Things.
During the IoT keynote Kevin Hoyt went very down to earth. He covered the state of IoT devices today using different means of connectivity as his starting point. My main take-away was his very thorough coverage of each "typical" device for Bluetooth-, WiFi-, and GSM-connectivity. For each type he demoed the device, showed the development environment, and discussed programming concerns: for example the importance of entering deep sleep when working on a device using Bluetooth and powered by battery. Specifically I took away how the libraries have evolved to make connectivity and features like deep sleep and wake-up-on-connect.
The other presentation that fitted nicely into the topic was the presentation Shahid Raza of RI.SE (Research Institute of Sweden), formerly SICS (Swedish Institute of Computer Science) held under the title "Is IoT Security a Nightmare?". I simply assumed that the question was purely rhetorical, and had expected a "yes" with some elaborations on the subtler points. Boy, was I mistaken. The overarching message of the presentation was a resounding "no". In fact the current protocol stack for IoT has evolved a lot and now even support end-to-end security of communication, even when the data package has to make multi-hops from one device to another before ending up at its final destination. The protocols for doing this are essentially structured in the same way as we do with certificates and HTTPS over TLS. The largest surprise for me was that the computation power needed for cryptographic computation is not a problem. I was under the impression that the power needed for those computations would take too much of a toll from the batteries of battery-powered devices, but apparently not. The largest toll is apparently the radio-transmission of data packages. And, the protocol folks have worked hard to compress the protocol stack so that the overhead-parts of each package (delivery info and security) is compressed so that there is more room for the payload. In that way, fewer packages are needed for the same amount of payload, and that is where you conserve a lot of battery power.
The third presentation was on the just-released Bluetooth 5 standard and was held by Ioannis Glaropoulos. He presented how the new standard has increased throughput of Bluetooth to 2 Mbps, making it feasible for e g streaming audio, which makes the protocol useable for more use-cases. Counter to intuition this might actually decrease battery consumption because the same amount of data can be sent in a shorter amount of time, diminishing the risk of interferences and resending the data. So the amount of energy needed per byte sent might be lower. Bluetooth 5 also features a longer range. For indoor use the main advantage is simpler topologies: many devices can connect directly to a central node or gateway, instead of having to form a mesh where some devices need to route-forward messages from more distant devices. This also conserves energy for the intermediary devices that doesn't need to wake up to forward messages, but can stay in deep sleep until they have something they want to transmit.
Put together these three presentations definitely broadened and deepened my understanding of where Internet of Things stand today. Something that is a worth outcome of a day at a conference.
Is your agile transition proceeding well? Or, is it stuck in places? Maybe the teams aren’t improving. Maybe no one knows “how to get it all done.” Maybe you’re tired and don’t know how you’ll find the energy to continue. Or, you can’t understand how to engage your management or their management in creating an agile culture?
You are the kind of person who would benefit from the Influential Agile Leader event in Toronto, May 9-10, 2017.
Gil Broza and I co-facilitate. It’s experiential, so you learn by doing. You practice your coaching and influence in the mornings. You’ll have a chance to map your organizational dynamics to see where to put your energy. You’ll split into smaller sessions in the afternoon, focusing on your specific business challenges.
If you would like to bring your agile transition to the next level, or, at the very least, unstick it, please join us.
We sold out of super early bird registration. Our early bird registration is still a steal.
If you have questions, please post a comment or email me. Hope to work with you at The Influential Agile Leader.
Occasionally people ask me how SolutionsIQ does Agile marketing, and I’m here to let you behind the scenes to see for yourself.
Agile marketing, per se, is not a new thing. It is the natural progression of Agile values spilling over from software development into every part of the enterprise. Therefore, Agile marketing isn’t any different than applying Agile values, principles and practices to a marketing process. The objectives and obstacles are different, but the guiding light is not.
In this post, I’ll focus on a few major touch points in our marketing process:
- The composition of our team
- Our working agreements
- The tools we use
Agile marketing isn’t new: it’s marketing guided by Agile values. Nifty tools help.
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SolutionsIQ’s Marketing department is a small, distributed team with members in four time zones, comprising full-time employees and dedicated contractors. Here’s what our team currently looks like on a map of the US:
SolutionsIQ Marketing has shifted and grown over the past few years since I joined in 2014, and we’ve managed to form a solid team with highly aligned values. We are dedicated to using Agile principles and values to produce valuable content for the industry in the form of blog articles, white papers and case studies, webinars and our Agile Amped podcast series (which can be found in our Resource Library). We also provide internal marketing support for all of SolutionsIQ as well as SolutionsIQ India.
We are ultimately a Scrum team. We practice Daily Standup, Sprint Planning and Review, and even Sprint Retrospectives (which often are just an informal conversation). We have a flexible sprint length of one week, which we adjust to our needs, for example, when events such as the upcoming Business Agility 2017 conference change the focus of our work. Everyone who joins SolutionsIQ is encouraged to attend a Certified ScrumMaster training course to give each of us a foundational understanding of what Agile is, how Scrum fits in, and why any of it matters.
Certified ScrumMaster training is the start to understanding what Agile is & why it matters
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Because the team is distributed, we have an informal working agreement of when, and sometimes where, we collaborate. Everyone works from home, if not exclusively then partially. Those of us who live near headquarters drive into Redmond, WA, several times a week to collaborate in person, especially if one of our out-of-town team members is also in the office. The only reason the team is effective is we have a team working agreement that includes items such as:
- Virtually “present” when working (see Tools below)
- Overlapping office hours
- Shared toolkit
- Transparency about time off and discussing options for coverage as needed
The main Agile values in evidence here are collaboration, transparency and rapid feedback. Because we may each be isolated from the others, it’s imperative that we broadcast constantly where we are, what’s blocking us, how we are rocking it, etc. Our company is also invested in maintaining our communication channels open and healthy, as evidenced by company-wide usage of shared tools like Sococo, Slack, Office 356 products, and Box.A Note on Product Ownership
SolutionsIQ is guided by a coalition of stewards who provide guidance and leadership for all of the company. In a traditional organization, stewards might include the C suite, VPs and directors. Our Marketing Steward Roxi is also our acting Product Owner. When the Stewards get together, they may have individual requests of the team that conflict with the wider corporate marketing initiatives or may present problems in terms of resources. In this not infrequent event, Roxi protects the team and is transparent about what is possible (given current corporate objectives) and what isn’t. She shows the stewards our backlog of objectives for the quarter and year and how new, unexpected work can be brought in but that would the In return she works with the Stewards to populate our backlog with epic stories that will actually provide value to our customers, often directly. This is not your typical Product Ownership approach, but we find it works for us.What Tools Do We Use?
Probably the most important tool we use in Marketing is Sococo, a telecommunications application that provides all of SolutionsIQ a virtual office. While the tool sells itself in terms of utility and ease of use, our distributed team depends on it heavily. All of our meetings and ceremonies are scheduled in Outlook, yet we always have Sococo running so that informal conversations and spontaneous team syncs are quick and painless. No scheduling meetings, no dialing anyone in. Sococo has speech, chat, video, and screen-share functions that make our lives much easier. Before this, we used other tools but very ineffectively.
Because the visualization of work is so important, SolutionsIQ as a company uses a tool called LeanKit to keep work in progress visible and transparent. The Marketing team has our own LeanKit board, which is connected to our corporate roadmap as well as the SolutionsIQ Stewards’ board. Task-level stories (e.g., create and release this blog) roll up to higher initiatives (establish thought leadership and delivery on brand promise). We have also recently implemented BaseCamp. As a truly Agile organization, we are constantly testing new tools to take advantage of new technologies and to optimize our productivity.
Although the company provides all of its employees with Microsoft Exchange accounts and corporate memberships for Outlook and other Office applications, Marketing relies more on free, open-source tools for getting work done, in particular the Google App Suite. We collaborate in Google Docs and Sheets, the latter of which is where we schedule out our Amped podcasts.
Our website is custom-built on WordPress and our webmaster/SEO expert David maintains and manages external contractors who help us customize the site. I also use an application called CoSchedule (and another of their products called Click to Tweet) to schedule out social media posts and campaigns.
Finally we use Salesforce and Pardot for sales and marketing automation and Google Analytics (and peripheral apps) for our data mining.Summary
Agile values drive our process, which is enabled by the tools we use. It’s as simple as that. There are companies out there with more robust approaches to how they gather data and use it to make decisions, and this is an area that we are also passionate about. However, it ultimately comes down to who you have on the team: what are their values and passions, their drivers and strengths? If you start with the values, you can always add on the skills. If you start with only the skills, as many corporates do — so obsessed are they with CVs and resumes — you may find that the clash of values down the road impedes growth needed to achieve your company’s mission, vision and values. In other words, skills are (relatively) easy to add on, but values are hard to break down and reconstruct.
Agile values drive SolutionsIQ’s marketing process, which is enabled by the tools we use
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They list these reasons:
- Fear of failure
- Fixed mindset
- Over reliance on past performance
- Attribution bias
Who else has studied organization failure? Well I've heard that many academics have studied the failure modes of organizations. One was John Kotter's 8 Steps model developed by studying the failure modes of organizations trying to institute large scale changes. Other's have studied how successful large mergers have been after the fact (some would suggest it's on the order of 20% successful). Some have studied how successful large software development project have been (Chaos Report - it is not a good report).
So what does your leader do to encourage learning at the organizational level? Is failure even allowed in your department? If so then it will be discussed and talked about in formal settings and acknowledged by leaders, rather than only around the dark stairways and in hushed tones.
Leader's drive FEAR out of the room!
Pitfalls of Agile Transformations by Mary Poppendieck
Knut Haanaes - Two reasons companies fail - TED Talk AND how to avoid them: Exploration and Exploitation
4 Questions Smart Leaders Always Ask Employees to Improve Their Performance
They're also great for fostering open dialog and developing meaningful work relationships.
End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries? Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet.
The legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, understood the Lean/Agile mindset perfectly 400 years ago.
Here is an excerpt from Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. Two translations are given, as each brings out different nuances of the original text.
Translation by Victor Harris. This translation is commonly available as a free download from many online sources, most of which do not credit the translator.The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze “Perception and Sight”. Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things. It is important in strategy to know the enemy’s sword and not to be distracted by insignificant movements of his sword.
It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without moving the eyeballs. You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what is written here; use this gaze in everyday life and do not vary it whatever happens.
Translation by Hidy Ochiai. I find this translation to be clearer, although in this case the translator does not explain the meaning of kan and ken (perception vs. sight). It’s published in the book, A Way to Victory: The Annotated Book of Five Rings.Your eyes should be able to focus on a large and wide area. There are two kinds of seeing: kan and ken, the former being the most important and the latter less essential. In martial strategy it is crucial that you be able to keenly see objects at a great distance and that objects in close proximity be viewed with a broader perspective. In a combat situation, you must see your opponent’s sword in the context of his strategy as a whole rather than observing each physical movement.
It is important to be able to see on both sides of yourself without moving your eyes. You will not be able to do this suddenly in an emergency situation. You must try to cultivate this method of seeing in everyday life and maintain the same type of eye focus at all times.
The spirit of this advice is consistent with the saying, “Think globally and act locally.” We should apply craftsmanship and precision to each little thing we do, but without losing sight of the larger context in which the thing exists. This may be harder to do than it sounds. Most people I meet tend to be big picture thinkers or detail-oriented “do-ers,” and few are comfortable with both perspectives simultaneously.
In Ochiai’s analysis of Musashi, he notes:Ordinarily one imagines that one’s mind-set when having a cup of tea is different from one’s mind-set in combat. Not according to Musashi. He feels that when one trains and disciplines the self physically and mentally according to the Way, the mind becomes calm and stable at all times, not preoccupied with any preconception or prejudice. This state of mind, which is attained after serious and hard training, Musashi calls heijo-shin. It is not the mental attitude of an ordinary person but of one who has gone through extraordinary training and self-discipline. The everyday mind of an ordinary person is not called heijo-shin, for it is not based on the true inner strength that can be attained only through a hard and authentic training.
I see many connections here. Connections with behaviors that I observe in the field. Connections with LeadingAgile’s pragmatic approach to organizational transformation. Connections to the mountain-climbing or “expedition” metaphor for driving organizational improvement.
The common element in these connections is expressed nicely by Musashi’s description of the warrior’s gaze. It comes down to a holistic perception of the small and the large, the near and the far, the immediate and the deferred, and the ability to maintain consistent focus on what is significant on all those axes.
Behaviors I observe in the field suggest this mindset is not so easy to cultivate. Tell-tale questions include:
- “Whose job is it to refine the backlog?”
- “As we combine technical job functions, who will test my code?”
- “Why should I consider security issues in my design if they aren’t explicitly mentioned in the User Story?”
- “How can we convince business stakeholders to give us permission to refactor our code?”
- “If we’re tracking delivery performance by team, how do we assess individual performance?”
Questions such as these suggest the person sees but does not perceive; they see rules, and do not perceive meaning. They have not cultivated heijo-shin.
In all these cases, and countless others, people are considering one specific job-related task in isolation from its larger context, and they are hoping to find a recipe to dictate what they must do in every situation that may arise. The “task” may be of relatively large scope—something the CTO does, or something a Portfolio-level team does—or of relatively small scope—something an individual programmer or tester does—but there is always a single, overarching organizational context, and it is within that context that people make judgments about what to do from one minute to the next throughout the day. It isn’t a question of rules, although you might benefit from a few rules initially to help you find the path forward.
Such questions would not occur to a person who had cultivated heijo-shin. They would perceive the whole and do the right thing in context naturally, without strain. But cultivating heijo-shin is a challenge that requires mindful practice. Musashi is clear on this point: Reading isn’t enough; you must apply the ideas. Whatever you practice every day is what you will do when the heat is on. Therefore, it’s important to practice the right things. How does one know what to practice? With guidance and a compass, you can find the right path.
LeadingAgile’s approach takes into account three levels of abstraction in the organization, which we call Portfolio, Program, and Delivery Team. Each has its own broad set of responsibilities and scope of work, but all are part of a single cohesive whole. One can view this as an example of Musashi’s notion of perceiving the near and the far in a spatial sense. What we do at the Delivery Team level is part of what we are doing at the Program and Portfolio levels. What we do at the Portfolio or Program level must be done in a way that doesn’t impede Delivery Teams. Each task must be done with high quality but does not exist in isolation.
The LeadingAgile roadmap, which is based on the expedition metaphor, comprises five Basecamps. These represent milestones of improvement. One can view this as an example of Musashi’s notion of perceiving the near and the far in a temporal sense. What we do on the journey from Basecamp 1 to Basecamp 2 will set us up for reaching Basecamp 3 in the future, and Basecamp 4 after that. Each Basecamp is a milestone but not an end state. The real end state is that people no longer think in terms of an “end state” at all, and instead they practice continual improvement as a habit.
The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social skills.
—Malcom Gladwell, The Tipping Point
Outside of an SPC class we probably don’t emphasize this enough, so let me state it here. SPCs are as essential to a successful SAFe implementation as your lungs are to breathing. They are that important when it comes to the transformation.
If you read this blog, you’ve probably noticed that we like to share our SAFe case studies which report some impressive results. On the surface, we’re showcasing improvement metrics. But what we’re actually demonstrating is what can be accomplished when some truly dedicated people work together toward a common vision, following the principles and practices of SAFe. Behind each case study is a coalition of SPCs—sometimes as few as one or two, sometimes many more—who are driving and communicating that vision. Even more importantly, they have the knowledge needed to actually implement the change.
If you’ve been reading our recent SAFe Implementation Roadmap article series, you’ll notice that we often refer to John P. Kotter’s “sufficiently powerful guiding coalition” as the force behind achieving meaningful and lasting change, and the role that the SPC plays in establishing that coalition.
To help you understand more about what it means to be an SPC, we’ve created a new guidance article that takes a deeper dive into their responsibilities in SAFe, a short discussion on how many SPCs are needed to drive and sustain an implementation, and what’s involved in training an SPC.
Read the SPC article here. You can also find out more about SPC certification, and the calendar of public classes here.
A personal thanks to the 4,000+ certified SPCs who are in the field, working hard to improve developers and end users lives, every day. You continue to be an inspiration to all of us at Scaled Agile, and drive us to do our best to relentlessly improve the Framework. After all, without you, SAFe is just a website.
Here are the tweets you likely missed last month!
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 10, 2017
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 12, 2017
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 27, 2017
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 12, 2017
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 12, 2017
— SonarQube (@SonarQube) January 11, 2017
— SonarLint (@SonarLint) January 31, 2017
We finally did it! A new release for our iOS app is now available in the App Store.Entity view
We’ve changed the way that entity details views are displayed on Apple devices. These views are now much better adjusted to iPhone and iPad screens, so it’s much more convenient to use Targetprocess on your phone or tablet:
- The ability to open links from Description and Comments
- A "share" action for Attachments
- A progress bar for Release, Iteration, Team Iteration, and Project entity views
- A state selector for Projects
- Multiple teams selector on entity details views.
- Projects list on Release views
If you have anything you want to share with us, use the Feedback form in the app's 'Me' tab, or shoot us a message at email@example.com.
Click here to download the iOS app.
Agile Pain Relief Agile Leadership Training — Giving leadership and management the tools and techniques to enable Agile within their organization
With the growing adoption of Agile, there is a need for a holistic approach for organizations to employ Agile throughout all aspects of business, rather than within specific teams. Expanding Agile methods from their traditional applications as development or product management tools into all areas of the organization requires a new set of skills in the management suite: Agile Leadership. Agile Leaders and Agile Leadership empower their organization from the top down to:
- Instill and practice Agile values, methods, and metrics at the organizational level
- Enable teams to deliver more customer value
- Remove barriers to team success
- Foster creative solutions
This three-day, hands on course led by Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) Mark Levison is targeted towards leaders, influencers, and managers within organizations that employ — or are planning to employ — Agile. Participants will learn core Agile concepts, processes, and practices, and how Agile can be used as a tool for organizational change to increase productivity and improve employee and customer satisfaction.The Agile Pain Relief Advantage Small Class Size in Your City Agile Pain Relief limits classes to a maximum of 20 students to ensure a quality learning environment with more opportunities to address your questions and concerns. Local training classes mean you meet and network with other professionals near you. On-site, private training also available. In-person and Interactive Direct learning tailored to each class and student. No canned PowerPoint presentations or webinars. Live instruction from Certified Scrum Trainers (CST) and group exercises modelled on Agile methods. Hands-on Applications of Scrum Methods with Agile Theory Practical examples and exercises using Scrum and Agile principles teach you how to adapt and practice Agile methods in your projects. Online Course Materials and Support Course attendees receive electronic copies of all seminar materials (including free updates to course materials as they become available) and exclusive access to Mark through Agile Pain Relief’s LinkedIn group.
** Courses available Q1 2017
LeanAgileUS is taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 27-28th. It has a real mix of great speakers and content, covering all aspects of Lean and Agile including Scrum, SAFe, Kanban, DevOps amongst other topics. I expect it to be an event where people come together for dialogue about different perspectives. I hope to hear more of “That’s interesting, tell me more” and less of “That’s wrong, and here’s why“.
My contribution will be twofold.
Firstly I have a talk on the Monday entitled “Good Agile / Bad Agile: The Difference and Why it Matters”, which you may recognise as the title of a recent post. I will be exploring some of those ideas in more detail. Here’s the abstract:
Stories of Bad Agile are common, where Agile is a local and tactical implementation, resulting in failed projects and initiatives. Businesses don’t get the results they had hoped for and Agile gets the blame for not working. Good Agile, however, is possible when it is directly and explicitly related to a business strategy. Thus Agile needs to be deployed strategically, with a clear diagnosis of the critical problem or opportunity faced, guiding policies on the approach to addressing the diagnosis, and coherent actions to implement the guiding policies. This talk will show how this approach can lead to Good Agile which is evolved through experimenting as opposed to Bad Agile being instantiated by copying.
Secondly I have a half day workshop on the Tuesday entitled “Enterprise Agility with Strategy Deployment”. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the X-Matrix, experience the process of creating one, and understand how to use it alongside other A3 templates. Here’s the abstract:
Strategy Deployment is a style of organisational improvement that engages the entire workforce in figuring out how the business can survive and thrive. This course will introduce Strategy Deployment using a framework called the X-Matrix – an A3 format which concisely visualises the alignment of results, strategy, indicators, and tactics on a single sheet of paper. With this approach, a transformation can be viewed as a form of Catchball, a Lean process where ideas are passed around an organisation as teams collaborate to experiment and discover solutions. In this way, solutions emerge from the people closest to the problem, rather than being defined and dictated by management.
The whole event is great value for money. Register soon as I’m sure it will sell out!